Monday, August 21, 2006

Dalai Lama visits Mongolia

Much to the dismay of the Chinese, Mongolia has welcomed the Tibetan Buddhist leader otday.

Organizers of the visit have kept the Dalai Lama’s travel schedule under tight wraps in an attempt to avoid angering Beijing, which cut off rail links with Mongolia for two days in 2002 in apparent retaliation for his last visit.

There had been few outward signs of his impending arrival in Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s low-rise capital, now in the throes of a tourism and construction boom.

The Mongolian government seems to be covered it's proverbial butt this time, which is understandable I suppose.

The Mongolian government has not been openly involved in arranging the visit, and it wasn’t clear whether the Dalai Lama would be received by President Nambaryn Enkhbayar or other top leaders.

“The top-ranking lamas had a meeting and decided to keep the visit low profile so as not to annoy China,” said Bazargur, a high-ranking monk at Mongolia’s largest monastery, Gandantegcheling, the Dalai Lama’s host.

But this statement caught me a little offguard:

The Dalai Lama is widely revered in Mongolia, whose people have strong historical links to Tibet and have traditionally followed Tibet’s esoteric school of Buddhism.

Yet decades of communist rule that ended in the early 1990s nearly wiped out Buddhist institutions, and the religion’s hold on the young is tenuous. Mongolia’s open society has also allowed new competitors to Buddhism.

New competitors to Buddhism? Christianity was introduced to Mongolians in the 7th century, it wasn't until the 16th century that Buddhism really took off in the region.

Nonetheless, anything free and deomocratic societies can do to stick it to China, I'm in favour of. Mongolians should not let a bunch of elitist dictatorial idiots to the south determine their course of action.