Chinese celebrities warned of mixing with exiled Tibetans

BEIJING (AP) — China’s state media have criticized celebrities for attending an event in northern India with members of the Tibetan government-in-exile, adding to Chinese authorities’ warnings about how actors and singers must behave.

An article on China Tibet Online this week that was widely carried by other state media said there was nothing wrong with Beijing singer and actress Wang Fei, Hong Kong actor Tony Leung and Beijing actor Hu Jun worshipping Buddhism and attending religious activities.

But it said that “meddling with the ‘Tibetan-independence’ clique leaders has gone far beyond the realm of ‘freedom of religious belief.'”

The phrase is a reference to the government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhists’ spiritual leader whom Beijing accuses of campaigning to split Tibet from the rest of China.

The celebrities were attending an event in northeastern India commemorating the 92nd anniversary of the birth of the late predecessor of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism’s third-highest spiritual leader, said the Karmapa’s office.

Karma Namgyal, secretary of the Karmapa’s office, said the presence of the celebrities along with one of the ministers of the Central Tibetan Administration and speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile was “coincidental.”

He said the three were in Bodh Gaya, a temple-dotted town where tradition has it that the Buddha reached enlightenment, to attend an annual weeklong prayer festival for world peace. They arrived a few days early, so attended the commemoration event as well, sitting on the side with all the laypeople, said Karma Namgyal.

China has already warned celebrities they should “serve the people and socialism.”