Tibet Insight No: 02/14


                                     TIBET INSIGHT


Afforestation around Yarlung Zangpo (Brahmaputra)

Xinhua, January 15, 2014

Liu Wei, the official in charge of the afforestation project, disclosed that more than 53,600 hectares of trees had been planted in 2013 in soil erosion-prone areas of Lhasa, Xigaze, Shannan and the Nyingchi prefectures, mostly along the Yarlung Zangpo. Buchun, deputy head of TAR”s Forestry Department, told Xinhua that this afforestation had visibly reduced dust in the Lhasa and Shannan prefectures. The improving eco-environment has also helped to ease sandstorms and strong winds in the Lhasa Gongkar Airport in the Yarlung Zangpo river valley, which has long posed a safety hazard for aircraft landings. It has reduced the number of days for which the airport was not operational.

The TAR government has plans to invest 30 billion yuan (about US $4.8 billion) in an afforestation project encompassing six major rivers, including the Yarlung Zangpo where workers will reforest 670,000 hectares of land to conserve soil and water resources. The project is expected to be completed by 2030. China blames the local Tibetans for illegal logging and overgrazing in hundreds of kilometres along the river resulting in deserts. The Xinhua despatch noted that the “Yarlung Zangpo River, the longest in Tibet, originates from the Himalayas and runs 2,057 kilometres from west to east through ‘southern Tibet’, then enters India”.

China’s Housing Project in Tibet

Tibet Online, January 26, 2014

Xinhua (Jan 26) reported that till now 2.3 million farmers and herdsmen had moved into new houses on completion of a housing project that was started in 2006. Lobsang Gyaltsen, Chairman of the TAR regional government and Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee, told the TAR People’s Congress that the 27.35 billion yuan (US $4.51 billion) project has benefited 2.3 million people in 460,000 households. Tseten, Vice Chairman of the Housing Project Construction Office of TAR reiterated this. TAR Finance Department said that in 2013 it had invested 696.3 million yuan to improve living conditions in 1,000 villages and put 150 million yuan into building venues for public activities in 500 villages in border areas. The number of permanent residents in Tibet is 3 million, according to a 2010 census.

[Comments: The Chinese government’s housing project in Tibet has been widely criticised by Tibetans and Chinese environmentalists. Wang Yongchen, a Chinese environmental activist and journalist stated that China faces serious environmental issues and nomadic culture has sustained Tibet’s environment. She added that according to her studies the Tibetans are very environment-friendly and Tibetan nomads help sustain the Tibetan environment.]



Chen Quanguo on Clean and Corruption Free Government

Voice of Tibet, January 15, 2014

Regional TAR leaders like Chen Quanguo (TAR Party Secretary), Padma Choling (Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee), Lobsang Gyaltsen (Chairman of the TAR regional government and Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee), Wu Yingjie (Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee), Deng Xiaogang (Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee,), Gonpo Tashi (Standing member of the TAR Party Committee, Party Secretary of the CPPCC TAR, Vice Chairman of the Regional party United Front Work Department), Qizha La (Standing Member of TAR Party Committee), Norbu Dhondup (Standing Member of TAR Party Committee), Dong Yunhu (Standing member of the TAR Party Committee, TAR Party Committee’s Propaganda Department Minister), Liang Tian(Standing member of TAR Party Committee) and Rui Lian (Secretary General and Deputy Secretary of Politics and Law Committee) attended the third plenary meeting of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CDIC) at Lhasa on January 14. Chen Quanguo stressed that the various departments of TAR at all levels should conscientiously implement the resolutions of the eighth session of the Third Plenary Session of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and particularly the important speeches of General Secretary Xi Jinping. The cadres should adopt the General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speeches as a guide and implement the spirit of the work report presented by CDIC Secretary Wang Qishan, which stressed unity of thinking, deepening reform, strict discipline, responsibility, and constantly expanding the region's fight against corruption.

TAR Delegations Visited US

Global Times, January 16, 2014

A delegation from TAR visited USA for four days. Dradul (Tibetan), Vice Mayor of Lhasa, described the purpose of the visit as “to give the world a true picture of Tibet, because the Dalai Lama and his followers continue to defame the region and create huge misunderstandings among people who have not even been to the region.” Lian Xiangmin, Director of the Modern Institute of China Tibetology Research Center, blamed the Dalai Lama and his followers for supporting and masterminding the incidents of self-immolations in Tibet. 

[Comments: The visit is part of the Chinese government’s effort to portray a positive image of the developments in Tibet to an international audience.]

Residents Rally for Detained Tibetan Monk in China

The Associated Press, January 16, 2014

Hundreds of residents and monks in Nangqian town in western China's Qinghai province gathered in front of a jail this week in a rare rally to demand reasons for the detention and the release of Karma Tsewang, a highly respected Tibetan monk and writer. Speaking to foreign journalists on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution a local resident said that about 60 to 70 monks and almost 400 to 500 laypersons gathered in front of the county jail in the Tibetan town of Nangqian on Jan. 15, to petition for the release of Karma Tsewang and several of his supporters. The crowd dispersed after receiving an assurance that they would be informed of the reasons for Karma Tsewang’s detention within five days.

A popular monk from the Japa Monastery, located outside Nangqian, Karma Tsewang is known for his work on disaster relief, environmental protection and teaching youth the Tibetan language. Reports claim he is detained in the neighboring Tibetan prefecture of Chamdo.

While the authorities have not yet given a reason for Karma Tsewang’s detention on Dec. 6, Beijing-based Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser said Karma Tsewang's lawyer has been told by Chamdo police that the case involves endangering state security. Expressing apprehension that his conviction could spark unrest because he is regarded by locals as their spiritual pillar, she said "If he should be convicted, it would be like the sky falling".

Tsering Woeser added that the monk had not been involved in any political activity, but was only trying to protect his religion, ecology and culture. She also said “it is common for the authorities to convict Tibetans on the charge of endangering state security." She said his supporters had staged rallies earlier in December too.

Meanwhile, Pajin Ripoche of Japa Monastery denied any knowledge of the petition. According to the official English-language ‘China Daily’, China prosecuted 20 cases involving national security in Tibet last year.

Chen Quanguo’s Meeting with the Propaganda Ministers in Lhasa

Xizang gov. January 23, 2014

TAR Party Committee’s Propaganda Department Minister Dong Yunhu chaired a meeting with TAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo on Jan. 21, in Lhasa. The meeting was attended by Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee Wu Yingjie, TAR Vice Chairman Meng Deli, and Vice Chairman of the Academy of Social Sciences Dean Pema Langchen and other cadres of the propaganda and ideological departments. Chen Quanguo gave “important instructions” about improving publicity and ideological work in Tibet and TAR propaganda and ideological cadres and workers for adhering to scientific planning, focusing on tackling difficult situations and innovating new ideas. He emphasised that the region’s publicity and ideological organisations must firmly grasp CCP’s fundamental theory and ideology. He urged cadres to: improve and correct the guidance of public opinion and strengthen the mainstream media to improve the ability to communicate with the people; to strengthen and ensure the pre-eminence of the CCP’s ideology in Tibet; and intensify control of the internet.

Wu Yingjie pointed out the Party has always attached great importance to the leadership and cadres of the propaganda and ideological organisations and accords importance to their work. Wu Yingjie stressed the need to implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speeches, ensure unity and stability and strengthen the mainstream media, which should foster the socialist core values, cultural reform and the building of Chinese cultural characteristics. Wu Yingjie stressed that Party committees at all levels need to strengthen leadership of publicity and ideological work, establish a work ethic, and mobilize forces

Hundreds of Tibetans Detained in Chamdo

Dossier Tibet, 25 January, 2014

Chinese authorities have cracked down on a grassroots Tibetan unity campaign whose members were wearing special armbands or carrying photos of the Panchen Lama. The detentions were triggered when police stopped three Tibetan truck drivers transporting firewood in Karma town, Chamdo. Two days later, about 50 Chinese police officers in 13 vehicles arrived in Chamdo’s Damthok and Tsala villages where they searched local residents and detained about 480 Tibetans wearing unity armbands and took them to the Karma town center, where they are reportedly being held in extremely harsh conditions. There is no indication whether the detainees have yet been released.

Photos of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai Lama-selected Panchen Lama, are strictly banned by Beijing. Separately, authorities in Chamdo’s Pashoe County have forbidden monks at a local monastery from using WeChat, a popular application on mobile phones to prevent them from sharing photos and messages about local incidents with outside contacts.

China Sends Military Tanks to Tibet ahead of Chinese New Year 

Dossier Tibet, January 30, 2014

In the run up to the Chinese Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, on Jan 31, authorities increased restrictions in Drango County in eastern Tibet’s Kham region. A large number of armed personnel in military trucks and tanks were deployed in Drango County on Jan. 27. The personnel carried out military drills on the main road during the day and night, apparently to intimidate local Tibetans. Tibetans are being frisked and checked for ID cards and restaurants and tea shops in the area are being watched by the authorities.

(On the first day of the Chinese New Year in 2012, security forces fired live ammunition at a group of unarmed Tibetan protestors in Drango killing at least one Tibetan and injuring many others.)

Chinese New Year non-Party Forum Held in Lhasa

Xizang.gov, January 30, 2014

To strengthen contacts with people outside the party and build friendship, the District Party Committee and TAR’s United Front Work Department invited officials and representatives of the non-public economic sector and non-party intellectuals to a Spring Festival Tibetan forum in Lhasa on Jan. 28. Gonpo Tashi (Vice Chairman of CPPCC TAR and Vice Chairman of the Regional Party United Front Work Department) extended New Year’s greetings on behalf of the District Party Committee and government representatives, Lobsang Gyaltsen (Chairman of the TAR regional government and Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee) and Chen Quanguo (TAR Party Secretary) extended New Year greetings.

China Detains Tibetan Youth for Dalai Lama in his Mobile Phone

Tibetan Review, January 31, 2014

A Tibetan youth called Norgay was detained on Jan. 14 after police found pictures and audio-recordings of religious teachings by the Tibetan spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama. Norgay was a labourer in Dingri County of Shigatse Prefecture, TAR. He was apprehended in Lhasa during a random check. Norgay had shared the photos and teachings in his mobile handset with others. Norgay is learnt to be held at a police detention facility near the Ramoche neighbourhood of Lhasa.

Chen Quanguo’s Greeting to TAR Public Security Bureau Officials

Tibet Daily, February 3, 2014

TAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo met officials of Public Security Bureau and policemen, cadres and People’s Liberation Army personnel, in front of the Potala Place, Lhasa and greeted them on the occasion of the Spring Festival on behalf of the CCP Central Committee, TAR Party Committee and the people of all ethnic groups. He greeted each one individually and offered white scarves. He expressed his appreciation to them for settling and selflessly working for the welfare of millions of people and for protecting the motherland. He appealed to them to work harder for a stable and harmonious TAR and to maintain stability and vigilance and combat separatist activities and criminal acts without hesitation.



Buddhist Association of China Elects New Leader

Xinhua, January 17, 2014

The Buddhist Association of China has elected new leaders of the TAR Branch of the Buddhist Association of China. Zhukang Tubdan Kezhub (Drukhang Thubten Khedrup) was re-elected as the 10th President of the Association. Taktra Tenzin Deleg, Rada Ngawang Tenzin and 17 other religious personages were elected Deputy Leaders of the Association. Phapalha Gelek Namgyal was again invited to be the honorary leader. Of the 21 new leaders, 11 were re-elected and 10 are new nominees.



Tibetans’ Religious Rights Duly Protected

English.news.cn, January 30, 2014

Li Decheng, Director of the Institute for Religious Studies of the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center, has refuted a recent Human Rights Watch report which claimed that China is suppressing the religious rights of Tibetans. According to Li Decheng, the religious rights of Tibetans are “duly protected in China with many sites for worship and intensified efforts to preserve their Buddhist culture”. He described in detail how Tibetan monasteries have been renovated and how Tibetans are allowed to visit religious sites, practice religion and celebrate religious festivals. He added that the Chinese government had also built a number of research institutes.

[Comments: Li Decheng did not touch on the issue of self-immolations by Tibetan nuns and monks.]









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