In July 2016, Chinese authorities began demolition work at Larung Gar, one of the largest institutes of Tibetan Buddhism in the world.

Photo: Charles Tay.

Located in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on the Tibetan border, Larung Gar originally housed over 10,000 monks and nuns. But Chinese authorities have ordered expulsions, in order to reduce the population to 5,000 by September.

Photo: Charles Tay.

They cited modernisation, public safety, fire risks and improving tourist paths as some of the reasons for the demolitions.

Photo: Charles Tay.

Last month, HKFP obtained several photographs of the area from Charles Tay who had entered Larung Gar.

Photo: Charles Tay.

The photographs show bulldozers clearing roads through the web of houses, and construction workers alongside Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Photo: Charles Tay.

In a press release last week, NGO Free Tibet cited eyewitnesses inside Larung Gar as saying that around 700 workers were at the institution carrying out work.

Photo: Charles Tay.

Tay told Free Tibet that Chinese tourists were able to walk around the site freely. Residents, however, appeared fearful of outside contact.

Photo: Charles Tay.

Tay also corroborated reports by a visiting journalist from French newspaper Le Monde that tourist infrastructure and hotels are being built in the surrounding area.

Photo: Charles Tay.

“I don’t know how long I will be able to deal [with this],” one resident who remained anonymous for personal safety reasons told Free Tibet.

Photo: Charles Tay.

“You need to take action quickly, otherwise [Larung Gar] will become a tourist attraction.”

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Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.