The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures (TAPs) and counties in other provinces to be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The constitution of the PRC states Chinese citizens enjoy “freedom of religious belief” but limits protections for religious practice to “normal religious activities.” The government applied this term in a manner that was not consistent with China’s international human rights commitments with regard to freedom of religion. In practice, the government restricted religious freedom. The constitution also stipulates the right of citizens to believe in or not believe in any religion. Only religious groups belonging to one of the five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” (Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Protestant), however, are permitted to register with the government and legally hold worship services. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) demands that religion “adapt to socialism.” CCP members are forbidden from holding religious beliefs and from participating in religious activities.
The government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom in the TAR and other Tibetan areas were poor, with widespread official interference in religious practice, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. There were reports of detention, sentencing (including two death sentences, one with a two-year reprieve), three deaths attributed to police, and other government-initiated violence related to religious issues. Repression was severe and increased around politically sensitive events and religious anniversaries. Official interference in the practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions continued to generate profound grievances. According to reports by journalists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 26 Tibetans, including monks, nuns, and laypersons, self-immolated. The government routinely denigrated the Dalai Lama, whom most Tibetan Buddhists venerate as a spiritual leader, and blamed the “Dalai Clique,” other outside forces, and foreign media reports for instigating the self-immolations. Authorities often justified official interference with Tibetan Buddhist monasteries by associating them with separatism and pro-independence activism.[Source]