Did Reuters get it wrong?

By Kay Beswick

 
One of the oft-repeated allegations is that Dorje Shugden practitioners are funded by the Chinese government, as part of their strategy to split the Tibetan community. This same allegation was the focus of a recent Reuters special report on the issue, titled “China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear Dalai Lama” which was published on Dec 21, 2015.

The Reuters report has received widespread attention for the depth of its investigation, but it has also drawn many responses and criticism for its shortcomings. What the Reuters article fails to consider is that:

  1. The ban was implemented by the Tibetan leadership. If anyone created a cause for the split of the Tibetan community, it was the Tibetan leadership themselves. They were the ones who split the Tibetans into those who practice Dorje Shugden and those who do not, and pitted the two groups against one another by fanning the flames of their patriotism. There would be nothing for the Chinese government to supposedly fund if there was no ban at all so if anyone is responsible for the split of the Tibetan community, it is the Tibetan leadership who are responsible for this

In Drepung Monastery in 2008, His Holiness the Dalai Lama once again called for the expulsion of Shugden monks from all monasteries [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS6hq5HJNik]

  1. Dorje Shugden practitioners, as first highlighted by Lukar Jam and later by Justin Whitaker, are not a homogenous group and to treat them as such would be a mistake. Within the Dorje Shugden community are people who hold His Holiness the Dalai Lama in high respect, just as there are people who hold him responsible for the ban. Justin Whitaker outlines this very clearly in his analysis on Patheos, recognizing that there is no single main Dorje Shugden leader to represent everyone. Therefore, just because some Shugden practitioners have made the personal decision to receive financial support from China, does not mean there is a defined link between Dorje Shugden and China. Such decisions are being made on an individual capacity

None of Lama Tseta’s claims ever have any confirmation. Ever wondered why? Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama]

  1. Lama Tseta has been discredited as an opportunist, who was never the head of the Dorje Shugden Society as he is fond of claiming. It is well-known in the Tibetan community that Lama Tseta has received money and kickbacks from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to speak, including his recognition as a reincarnated lama by the Tibetan leadership
  2. For these reasons of personal benefit, Lama Tseta continues to speak against Dorje Shugden. Yet he has never once produced a single shred of hard evidence to back up his claims that Dorje Shugden practitioners receive funding from China. He has never produced receipts or documentation showing payments made, or even recordings or photographs of the meetings he claims to have held with Chinese officials in his capacity as the (falsely claimed) head of the Dorje Shugden Society
  3. Lama Tseta has previously claimed that Dorje Shugden lamas are behind the unsolved murders of 1997 at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, yet he does not produce any evidence. This kind of allegation is a serious one (a criminal one, at that) and yet Lama Tseta has not produced any evidence to back up his accusations. It has to be asked – does Lama Tseta have ANY evidence at all for anything he says? Or does he have evidence that he is withholding from the authorities, in which case he would be perverting the course of justice and become an accessory to murder?

Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama]

  1. Despite such a lengthy investigation, Reuters themselves admit there is no hard evidence of payment or funding from the Chinese government (“Reuters has no independent evidence of direct Chinese financing of the protests.”). They are relying solely on the testimony of a monk whose credibility has been repeatedly called into question

It is therefore no surprise to note that Reuters has been accused of falling under the control and influence of the British government. Although it is a privately-owned company based in the United Kingdom, Reuters is said to have close links with the British government and functions as their official mouthpiece.

Click to enlarge. [Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/72489.htm]

As a result, they have acquired a reputation for publishing news about China with a strongly negative bias. It would certainly explain their rush to publish yet another article seeking to discredit the Chinese government, with no hard evidence whatsoever. After all, why does Reuters continue to give so much precedence to the claims of somebody who, in their own words, does not seem to be able to provide “independent confirmation” for anything he says?

For such a significant claim which forms the entire basis of this investigation, it is strange indeed that the journalists of this Reuters’ article have relied on hearsay, and have not been able to produce any evidence.

That Reuters would paint the Shugden protests in such a negative light is disappointing, to say the least. Britain touts itself as being open-minded, fair and tolerant, and Reuters claims to be an unbiased source of news. Yet the article’s treatment of the Shugden protests is anything but unbiased. The journalists fail to consider that the protesters have all the permits necessary to carry out their protests, and they are merely exercising their right to make themselves heard. Since the Tibetan leadership has never made any concrete offers or arrangements for constructive dialogue with members of the Shugden community, the protesters have been left with little choice but to protest peacefully, to constantly remind the Tibetan leadership of their presence and provide them with every opportunity to initiate dialogue.

This lack of outreach to Dorje Shugden lamas, practitioners and organisations is reflected in this article, by the lack of significant involvement from any Shugden lama or organisation in this investigation. It would therefore seem that precedence was instead given to airing Lama Tseta’s unsubstantiated claims. As a well-respected journalistic outfit, we would be willing to consider the possibility that Reuters has been grossly misled in this topic since it seems quite unlike Reuters to intentionally omit the significant input of any Dorje Shugden organisation or lama.

It would be easier to assume that Reuters has been misled because it would be disturbing to consider that a respected media outlet would actually support allegations that His Holiness is in any real danger. Such an allegation would reflect careless journalism. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been in close proximity with Shugden protesters since 2008 and if the danger were real, there have been plenty of opportunities to bring harm to His Holiness. Yet, the protesters continue to maintain a respectful distance and continue to ask for their religious freedoms. And it is exactly this type of careless journalism that Andrew Korybko criticizes in his online recap of the Reuters article.


or watch on our server:
http://video.dorjeshugden.com/videos/andrew-korybko.flv

This type of reporting is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction against the Dorje Shugden protests. With no real evidence of any of the accusations being made against Dorje Shugden practitioners, Reuters and other media outlets are fast turning His Holiness the Dalai Lama from media darling to media fodder. Thanks to lazy reporting, His Holiness has become a source of entertainment by the media keen to highlight his public relations missteps, from his remarks about the next Dalai Lama being an attractive female, to VICE’s careless publication by someone claiming her mother went on a date with the Dalai Lama.

If it was Dharamsala’s aim to use Reuters to discredit Shugden practitioners by highlighting their non-existent links with China, then the strategy has backfired. As a result of this article, China has openly confirmed their support for Dorje Shugden and all religions. As such, this Reuters’ article has had the effect of pushing China in a direction that the Tibetan leadership has always dreaded – that Dorje Shugden practitioners would actually gain the support of the great Dragon of East, and China would become increasingly open to the West and gain their ongoing support. This Reuters article has, in effect, further alienated Dharamsala from any potential resolution they may have with Beijing regarding their own political goals.

Since the Cold War, the West has often been at loggerheads with China and for the last 60 years since they first went into exile, the Tibetan community has been a pawn in this political game of chess. Western powers have used their support for the Tibetan cause as a jab at China, citing China’s human rights record as a reason for their refusal to develop friendlier relations with them. However, as China opens up and develops their own form of democracy, we are seeing increasingly warmer relations between the Western powers and China.

Extracted from the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s response to the Reuters article. The Reuters article provided China with an opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to provide religious freedom to all their citizens, and officially recognized Dorje Shugden as an authentic faith and practice. This response is in stark contrast with Dharamsala, who instead deny religious freedom to Shugden practitioners. Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/china-dalailama-response-idINKBN0U420120151221]

With the issuance of this statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry granting religious freedom for all faiths, including the worship of Dorje Shugden, the West has one less reason to keep their distance from China. They now have one more reason to increase trade and political relations; after all, why not “reward” China with closer economic ties since they are taking measures to incorporate greater levels of Western-style democracy into their political system?

This is notwithstanding the fact Western powers actually need China, given today’s languishing economies. With 1.2 billion people, and a growing middle class with a disposal income they are looking to spend, China represents a huge untapped market for the Western companies vying to introduce their products to the population.

As the West improves their relationship with China, and they no longer need the Tibetan cause to keep China at an arm’s length, Dharamsala will see support for their political goals slowly eroding and fewer Western leaders willing to meet with them. What can a relationship with Dharamsala do for countries are who struggling financially and looking to boost their economies? A relationship with China will prove more financially beneficial than a relationship with the Tibetan leadership; a relationship with China provides so many more incentives than a relationship with Dharamsala.

The Reuters article has therefore become another trigger or cause for Western support for Tibet to erode. The Reuters article highlights the suppression of Dorje Shugden practitioners and, in their response, has provided China with an opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to provide religious freedom for all of their citizens, including Shugden practitioners. This in turn will make it more comfortable and easier for the West to demonstrate their support for China.

It is obvious that any time someone supports the ban against Dorje Shugden, or uses it to achieve some kind of political goal, everyone becomes a victim and there is never a positive result. Dorje Shugden practitioners suffer discrimination, while those upholding the ban continue to damage the reputation of the Tibetan community and His Holiness the Dalai Lama by encouraging investigations like these which are not truthful or thorough. Even the most casual observers of the ban will see that it will only benefit the Tibetan leadership and all involved parties to lift the ban against Dorje Shugden.

 

Reuters’ Original Report

Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama]

 

Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Response to Reuters

Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/china-dalailama-response-idINKBN0U420120151221]

 

Justin Whitaker’s Analysis on Patheos

Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2015/12/5-things-we-learned-and-dont-from-the-reuters-investigation-into-the-buddhist-shugden-sect-china-and-the-dalai-lama.html]

 

Andrew Korybko’s Analysis on Sputnik

Click to enlarge. [Source: http://www.sputniknews.com/radio_context_countdown/20151225/1032303406/dorje-shugden-refugee-confiscations.html]

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19 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Given that International Campaign Tibet – @SaveTibetOrg – were all over this story like a rash, I suggest that these Reuters journalists were well and truly duped by a sweet-talking ICT representative.
    The article is rather embarrassing for all players attempting to resurrect the Dalai Lama’s reputation.

  2. In the past I have seen Reuters as a well respected news outlet. I am both disappointed and disillusioned by this article. I work with Sonam Rinchen assisting in spreading the message for of the discrimination and persecution of the Dorje Shugden followers. This article does not accurately represent the actions of the Dorje Shugden followers I am involved with. I feel David did not write an unbiased article as he had promised Sonam Rinchen during their lengthy conversations. This is so very upsetting and disaapointing.

  3. A lot of verbosity and shoddy reporting, why would Reuters a British backed news agency try to smear China. Britain want the billon pounds of contract from China don’t they?

    If I don’t have any evidence I would shut up let alone publish something. is there no decency amongst journalist anymore?

  4. I am surprised there’s no prove of evidence to all that was reported above. Lama Tseta commented he has evidence; so where are they ? Why not present them ?

  5. I failed in so many areas of my life. I wasted my relationships. I messed up my spiritual life. I use to practice Dorje Shugden. I was never taught to damage or hurt anyone by doing this practice. But because of my romantic infatuation with one of the monks in our organization I got mixed up and messed up and left. I am regretting it now. I protest and write against NKT because I can’t accept my mistakes. Sometimes I want to get help, sometimes I don’t. I am ashamed. Easier to blame others. Easier to call NKT a cult and lay the fault on them. I wanted to find blame where there was none. I left NKT and now I encourage others to leave. I know I can’t keep doing this because I am so frustrated with my life as I have accomplished nothing. All I have ever done is run and escape. I have to stop all the nasty talk I do and blaming others. But I need help to stop. I need help. I don’t like psycho-analysts and psychologists because what they say hurts. Truth hurts.

  6. As a news agency feeds news and reports to the world, Reuters should be more objective in its reports. To be less bias and more objective is not to look good, it’s the “survival tool” for Reuters’ survival – to sell news and reports to various parties with different stands and opinions.

    Especially when news agency tends to report without much ground research and investigation, just by making some phone calls, interviews thru phones and etc; or editors just combine few reports by few writers to come out with a commentary/feature that “fit” the perspective of certain issue of the editor or the agency, this will only invite criticism and hurt the credibility of Reuters.

    No one needs more personal opinions that fits your own imagination or political preferences, but some professional and more objective views are much needed.

    Thank you.

  7. Dear Kay

    Thank you for the article. It is irritating for a media giant like reuters to make accusation and claims without independent confirmation or strong evidence. I wonder what is their objective for doing that other than to reduce their own credibility perhaps?

    Accusing DS practitioners in general to receive financial aid from Chinese government is huge claims – though I do not think it is true. Therefore I would like to thank you very much for highlighting this matters – we should not let baseless accusation left without strong feedback or refutation.

    Michaela

  8. Reuters action to publish an article:
    1) with such weak evidence
    2) on a sensitive topic of religion and religious freedom
    3) involving world powers like China
    4) filled with disclaimers that no solid and final source of evidence has been identified
    5) based on the words of a man who is known to be an attention seeker

    …is a tarnish to the well-regarded reputation of Reuters at worst, an irresponsible act that corrupts the codes of journalism at worst. I have seen blog sites put more emphasis on research and credibility of source than what was presented by Reuters here.

    For such a reckless publication, there must be ulterior motive.

    However, I am glad that something positive came out of it. May China truly support Dorje Shugden causes everywhere so that this Protector can rise and benefit many. May China be a shining example of leadership of the 21st century where material dynamism is matched with spiritual enrichment.

  9. The poisonous tentacles of the corrupt Tibetan Administration strikes again. They really have no morals or ethics, given all that they have done in the past, now they manipulate respected foreign media to their own advantage. But gladly this really back-fired on them.

    Given the lack of evidence in this badly disguised opinion piece by Reuters, one sees that even such a reputable media outlet has been used by the Tibetan Administration. If the people in charge were truly aware that this piece was to be published, i’m sure that by now they have come down on the journalists and those involved like a ton of bricks. This isn’t becoming of such a news outlet. So many flaws, inconsistencies. So sad.

  10. After reading this I have lost a lot of respect for Reuters! Wowow I really did not expect such unprofessionalism from Reuters reporters. It is one thing to just report here say, it is another to actually use a not very credible person to back up such a huge accusation and claim.

    This Reuters write up extremely biased and perhaps the reporters were even paid to have this article done! Otherwise why publish something without the proper evidence the least they can do is get the story from both side not just from one. I don’t know what everyone else thinks but I believe this is perhaps the worst news write up Reuters have ever published with a bunch of lies and loads of BS.

  11. This is bull. The Tibetan government takes MY taxes and uses it to fund their cronies’ lifestyles and they dare accuse other people to taking Chinese money? Well you know what? Where the hell do you think my government gets their money from? It ain’t just our taxes! They sign billion-dollar trade deals with the Chinese, THAT’S where the money comes from. Reuters is just a shill spouting some liberal bull about China being evil, with no proof, no evidence and no basis. Well done America for turning another objective media outlet into a biased liberal platform.

  12. Having one of the biggest news coverages, it is indeed very disappointing to read about all the political games from Reuter’s report on this matter. They did not do their homework well and instead, they chose to side His Holiness even without hearing what Dorje Shugden practitioners have to say. This shows how biased they are and I must say, the article was not done professionally.

  13. Reuters are notorious for manipulating news, and Reuters is known for their anti-China stance, hence it is not surprised that Reuters came out with such baseless and severely biased news article associating China and Dorje Shugden practitioners together without any solid proof. If you check the journalist who wrote this article – Paul Mooney, his Facebook is full of anti-China post, so it is no wonder that he got this article out to shame China once again with his poorly research piece of news. This will go down Reuters’ history as another piece of scandalous work, just like this one where Reuters’ journalist manipulated photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adnan_Hajj_photographs_controversy

  14. Everybody would usually have a vested interest when making a statement or making a decision besides the obvious reasons. It is often well known that the US is concern about human rights abuse in China and often concern about the Tibet issue for this reasons. However, the underlying hidden vested interest is to curb and control a growing economic superpower like China by repeatedly smearing its name via such allegations. These days, even reputed news agencies would join in on the bandwagon to further the US-western interest to control and contain China. It’s sad that all this has got nothing to to with the real issue at hand, which is the religious and human rights issue surrounding the Dorje Shugden controversy.

  15. It is deeply disappointing that Reuters is supporting the CTA against religious freedom. The human rights of so many people are being stepped on.

    Indeed, the Tibetan community has used and is still using so many ways to harm and insult Dorje Shugden practitioners and Dorje Shugden lamas that it is difficult to believe that the news agency Reuters wants to get involved in their crimes.

    May be Reuters has a different motive with this article perhaps and it is not about journalism??

    How does it come that Dorje Shugden people still have no religious freedom and that Dorje Shugden practitioners are treated like criminals since so long – only because of their religious choice!?!

    This article shows that Reuters is may be not a serious press agency – how can they go against basic human rights and not research properly??

  16. The Reuters report is the biggest joke jeopardising the professionalism of a supposed to be reliable and professional media agency. This move is seen as a propaganda of the Dalai Lama and the CTA with an interest to put China down. The position of this media agency is now clear to us and we should be more careful in reading their reports, should we still find value in them. It is very disappointed that such a good media agency would choose to be biassed and unprofessional for the silliest reason – to support a failing government that misused the financial aids and donations from others.

  17. Reuter’s reporting on the Dorje Shugden issue is bias, totally single sided to say the least. The story line of the report only focus on a couple of aspects; i.e. how HHDL is being threaten by Dorje Shugden movements and how China is linked to these.

    The report disregarded the accusation of China funding the Dorje Shugden, which is illogical and lack of evidence. It is unethical of Reuter to publish the report without validating the accusation and clarifying the claims. It is not a secret that for the last 20 years since the ban started that gave rise to this allegation, no concrete evidence was shown or presented because it is a slogan used by the Dharamsala leadership / CTA as a cover up to their own corruption.

    The claim of HHDL’s safety being threaten by Dorje Shugden practitioners could not be more unfounded, considering that both FBI and Britain’s Home Office refuse to give any confirmation nor indication. For the head of an establishment who published the hit list of Dorje Shugden practitioners and fan assaults on innocent Shugden’s practitioners, it is unbelievable that the mob is not doing his bid hence he is more protected than he should be.

    Also, the so called trusted “insider” Lama Testa was not exactly a credible informant considering his reputation among the Tibetan community. Yet, Reuter chose to rely on him alone. To the innocent readers, it may seem like Reuter had found an “insider” to lend credit to the report, but for people who read more and do their own “googling”, it is an open secret that Lama Testa is an opportunist and had been making accusation without evidence for decades.

    Reuter has reduced itself to be the machinery of agenda-driven political parties like the CTA.

  18. Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche does not want to be associated with you and yet you put his photos up all over Dorjeshugden.com . He has asked you to stop. You should have respect enough for this Lama to abide by his wishes.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche concluded his message urging the followers of Dorje Shugden to stop seeking him. “I do not wish to be in touch with you,” he said. After this declaration, Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche moved to the United States with a small number of his most faithful followers.[2]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trijang_Chocktrul_Rinpoche

  19. If Reuters have to put disclaimer on inability to verify the the information and accusations, they should not have published the article. After all, Reuters is known for their factual reporting. This only creates a cloud of doubt.

    The reporting is very one sided. The journalists should have been more impartial and contacted the Dorje Shugden practitioners to fully understand both sides of the story before making sweeping statements. As it is, the whole article hinges on 1 monk’s words, a monk of doubtful credibility at that. I doubt if that is very professional of the journalists.

    It definitely would do the agency a favor for the editors to check the article before putting it to print.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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