China steps up 'training' of Tibetan clergy, officials

Chinese authorities are ramping up political indoctrination among Tibetan Buddhist clergy and officials in charge of religious affairs as part of a campaign to strengthen the ruling Communist Party's grip on religion.

A Tibet government website reported this week that 35 officials and an unidentified number of monks and nuns traveled to the eastern city of Suzhou last month for "training." It said they were instructed to be "reliable in politics and take a clear-cut and firm stance."

The officials and clergy were from the Tibet Autonomous Region and ethnically Tibetan areas of Yunnan province.

Such indoctrination, along with compulsory political study in monasteries, aims to reduce the appeal of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader. Christians and Muslims have also come under increased pressure of recent months.