China & Buddhism Today
Buddhism carries a long line of history and tradition in Eastern Asia. The religion experienced growth around 200 B.C.E, where it found its way into mainstream Chinese society. Its introduction into China broke the cultural domination of Confucianism and made a great impact on the Chinese civilization. During the Tang Dynasty, the form of Zen Buddhism was created by the Chinese and in early 20th century it was revived and spread massively to the West. Its role in comparative politics is greatly noted in China and we will see how Western role in the way of life in China versus the old traditions of Chinese society has impacted and caused tensions in China.
To illustrate the importance of Buddhism to the Chinese government and its people, it is important to understand its relation to Tibet. China has been critical of Tibet and its sovereignty, as it has caused many of the dilemmas still facing China. Tibet is best known of China's minority areas to outsiders, both because of the repression of the 1959 Tibetan rebellion and because of the widespread recognition of and admiration for Tibet's traditional spiritual, and political leader, the Dalai Lama. Tibet also demonstrates difficulty of ensuring cultural integrity for an ethnic minority while guaranteeing national integration and border security in an age of globalization. For the past 60 years, China has reject any form of independence for Tibet, public criticisms of the Dalai Lama and questioned his and the nation's legitimacy.
Earlier this year the Chinese Government continued its activity in Tibet and in Buddhism. On March 13, Chinese political officials described the Dalai Lama as a "wolf in monk's robes," and a "dangerous splittist" intent on cleaving the Chinese nation. Spilling propaganda and keeping up with its decades-long attack on the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. Even claiming that it will decide who the Dalai Lama shall be reincarnated because it is a "Chinese government responsibility", all while contradicting the traditions of Buddhism. While tensions over the actions of the Dalai Lama rise in China, its dispute has profound implications for Beijing and its hold over Tibetan areas. The Chinese government is determined to manage all aspects of Tibetan Buddhist traditions to ensure the region remains firmly under Chinese control.
China continues its relentless efforts to undermine the nation of Tibet and the Dalai Lama to obtain control over the region even after the events of 2008 where China was accused of excessive force over Tibet during pro-separatists movements.
1. Should the Chinese government have a say Buddhism and who the next Dalai Lama be?
2. As a communist nation, should China have any affiliation with Buddhism and its traditions?
3. Will increased tensions affect China's role in the global stage?
A Disappearing Threat - Louie Graziano
The United States military is well known to be the largest and most feared combat force in the world. Ever since the end of WWII, the US has been a dominant superpower and with the exception of Russia in The Cold War has never had a true rival against the combat troops it could deploy or the devastation its weapons could deliver if ever needed.
These facts have always overlooked and ignored the staggering size of the Chinese military. In 1987, the Chinese government had an army that stood at a massive 4.238 million people. That alone was twice the size of the entire US military in the same year. Although, it was never truly recognized as a threat due to the fact that it has always been viewed as a security and homeland defense force rather than an invasion-based army. Since then the Chinese have decreased the size of their army four times to create a total reduction of about 2 million army troops. This year alone, the government pledged to remove another 300,000 active troops from their army.
Why would a rapidly growing world power remove a major card from their deck? The Communist party in China has stated several times that they are focused on their economy and peace over its own world hegemony. President Xi Jinping has realized that while having a large military is important, it is actually the quality of the combat force that is more important than the actual size. The army is disproportionally larger than the Chinese navy and air force, 72:11:17, and the president has come to realize how useless these numbers are in a world where most of the "battles" are fought with a navy and air power. This realization caused the president to restructure the different branches of the military to a more effective 5:2.5:2.5 army, navy, air force split.
This restructuring and downsizing will give the government about $9.7 billion, which is roughly 7.5% of the total military budget, to spend on more pressing matters and concerns within the country or to reallocate within other military divisions.
The rest of the world has responded well to this announcement because it shows that the government is proving it is focusing on peace and is not stacking up weapons for a war that could be on the horizon. That instead, the country can spend its money on more beneficial programs and aid throughout its borders. It is also a positive because of the rising tensions that have been growing in the South China Sea to see the country removing active troops rather than adding them.
1. Is this most recent military downsize to appease the other nations of the world or is it a trick by the Chinese so we will think they are moving towards peace?
2. What will the government do with an extra $9.7 billion in its military budget?
3. Should the US be happy or worried about this downsize announcement?