Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Choni 卓尼 update

 I have just updated the Choni chapter to reflect a recent discovery that Rock was concealing a major feature of the place - the presence of Christian missionaries and hundreds of converts. 

In his article about Choni, Rock portrayed the small town in Gansu as a remote Tibetan princely jurisdiction with a strange and unique Buddhist character, untouched by the outside world.

However, this article describes how Scots protestant missionary William Christie lived in Choni (Zhuoni, 卓尼)  for two decades from 1904 to 1924,  departing just months before Rock arrived. Christie converted hundreds of Choni Tibetans to Christianity and even won the favour of the local prince, if not converting him. 

Christie turned an abandoned Tibetan monastery into a mission station in nearby Lintan, and the locals are still practising Christians to this day. And yet Rock makes no mention of this, though he must have been aware, having lived in Choni for almost a year. Perhaps he didn't want to spoil the image of himself as a pioneer explorer.

And maybe the presence of a Christian enclave is the reason why Choni was deemed sensitive and 'closed' by the local PSB when I visited  - and was deported - a decade ago.