Tibet Insight No: 5/14






China Begins Building New Strategic Railway Close to India’s Border

China Daily, March 11, 2014

China’s official English-language newspaper ‘China Daily’ reported on March 10, 2014 that work to extend the railway from Lhasa to Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri) at an estimated cost of RMB 30 billion (US$ 4.9 billion) will commence later this year. China has already announced that it will complete and begin operating the ongoing 253-km Lhasa-Xigaze (Shigatse) railway line by October this year.

Once completed, China’s railway network will reach India’s doorstep just across India’s border state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its territory and Chinese maps show as part of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)’s Nyingchi county.


Losar Celebrated in Tibet for Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday

Tibetan Review, March 6, 2014

Tibetans in many parts of the Qinghai and Sichuan provinces who have refused to celebrate Losar (the Tibetan New Year) since 2008, as a mark of solidarity with those who had been killed or suffer persecution, this year celebrated the occasion with special religious fervor. According to the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia of March 4, they decided to celebrate Losar this year to commemorate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.

In Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) and Tsolho (Hainan) prefectures of Qinghai, for example, Losar has not been celebrated since 2008, but local sources were quoted as stating that this year “Tibetans in these areas marked the occasion by abandoning the consumption of meat and alcohol and by mounting prayer flags on hills and taking part in religious activities such as prayers and offering ceremonies so that the Dalai Lama may live for over 100 years.”

Monasteries and villages in Serta (Seda) County of Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture, Sichuan province, were also reported to have observed the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday on the occasion of this Losar. They reportedly displayed the “Dalai Lama’s photo on family altars along with special cookies and by making prayers for his long life and the accomplishment of his wishes.”

Tibet NPC Deputy: Ecological Environment Trumps Economic Development

China Tibet Online, March 10, 2014

Deputies from Tibet to China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing took part in a panel discussion on March 9, 2014 where Lobsang Gyaltsen, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), said that “Tibet will never develop economy at the price of polluted environment.” He said “Tibet has struck a balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection, and given priority to ecological conservation and environmental protection”.

Tibet’s GDP (RMB 57.57 billion) rose by 12.5 per cent to touch RMB 80.2 billion, with people’s living conditions improving greatly. 188 of the total 226 projects included in The Twelfth Five Year Plan have been carried out. Lobsang Gyaltsen listed the highlights as: completion of the laying of tracks for the railway between Lhasa and Shigatze and opening of the Medog highway, ensuring all-weather access to the region once dubbed as Tibet’s "last isolated county"

TAR Chairman declares there have been no self-immolations by local residents in Tibet.

Time, March 11, 2014

At the NPC annual meeting in Beijing, Padma Choling, one of the highest ranking Tibetan officials in China and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of TAR, asserted that no self-immolations by locals had taken place under his watch.

“None of the 46,000 monks and nuns in Tibet’s 1,700-plus monasteries, nor any local residents, have self-immolated,” said Padma Choling, who is also a former soldier. Padma Choling’s statement is technically correct as nearly all such acts have taken place in ethnically Tibetan areas of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu and not in TAR. His statement however, leaves open the possibility of Tibetans from elsewhere coming to TAR in future to immolate themselves.

Exile groups and human rights activists claim that at least 125 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Chinese state repression. The latest human-rights report issued by the U.S. government states  that nearly 90 people are in jail in connection with the self-immolations and some were locked up simply for being relatives of  the protesters.

Why are Monasteries and Homes Given “Portraits of the Great Leaders”?

High Peaks Pure Earth, March 11, 2014

A recent blog by well-known Tibetan blogger Woeser commented on the policy of the “9 Haves” in villages and monasteries, which includes having the portraits of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. She claims this has had quite some resonance on the internet and that most people thought this was damaging to local religious beliefs and represented a return to the “North Korean path”. She said researchers believe this will try the Tibetan people’s patience and would create an even larger breeding ground for protests and friction. She added that this policy would result in “true belief” being replaced by “fake belief”.

Nepal Cracks Down on Tibetan Activists

The Hindu, March 11, 2014

Nepal police arrested at least nine Tibetans from two areas in the capital on March 10, even as they beefed up security around “sensitive” areas to prevent anti-China demonstrations. Nepal Police spokesperson Ganesh K.C. told The Hindu that five persons were detained. Two women were from the Hattisar area and four women from Swoyambhunath area. The visa section of the Chinese Embassy is at Hattisar, and Swayambhunath has a famous Buddhist temple and a sizeable number of Tibetan residents. He said investigations are continuing.

A heavy posse of Nepal Police and Nepal Armed Police were seen around the Chinese Embassy, its visa section, Bouddha (which has the largest number of Tibetan population), and the U.N. House. Local TV channels said that the police increased their presence around the Tibetan settlement in the tourist city of Pokhara. The movement of Tibetans is restricted on March 10 and July 6, the Dalai Lama’s birthday, near what are called “sensitive areas.”

 In recent years, Beijing has pressurised the Nepal government and police to disallow anti-China protests.

Full Mobilization of Combat Readiness" and "Happiness Lhasa"

Woeser Blogger and Activist

The Tibetan blogger Woeser recently satirically commented on a Tibet Television programme telecast on March 10 showing a “Stability Maintenance Response Simulation Exercise” by Tibetan Public Security units and Public Security Bureau Army of the TAR in Lhasa the previous day. Describing the display of APCs and armed personnel as “eye catching” and “menacing”, she pointed out that at the annual sessions of the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, Tibetan government officials claimed that “Lhasa has the highest Happy Index in the whole country”. She asked why then was it necessary for the commander-in-chief of stability maintenance headquarters to declare: “This stability maintenance response simulation exercise is our new starting point....it’s most important to prevent individual extreme events such as self immolations, violent terrorist events, illegal gatherings of certain scales...strike hard as soon as any enemies dare to jump out and incite. No soft approach...”

Wang Lixong: The Elephant and the Mouse

Rangzen Alliance, March 13, 2014

Wang Lixiong, the Han Chinese husband of Tibetan blogger Woeser, recently commented on an article by Liu Junning published in the Chinese edition of the Wall Street Journal on March 4, 2014. In his article entitled “Rethinking the Policy of Regional Nationality Autonomy in Light of the Kunming Incident”, Liu Junning, a researcher of the Institute of Chinese Culture, a subsidiary of China's Ministry of Culture, blamed China’s worsening nationality problem on the disparate treatment of the minorities. The article said this had resulted in estrangement caused by regional nationality autonomy and demarcations between nationalities. Describing these as "root causes" for the escalation in nationality enmity and conflict, Wang Lixiong repeated suggestions made earlier by Chinese scholar Ma Rong of the Department of Sociology, Peking University, who has written often on issues relating to China's ethnic minority nationalities. Ma Rong has urged the elimination of regional nationality autonomy and distinctions between nationalities. Arguing that special safeguards for minority nationalities cannot be disregarded, Wang Lixiong cited the differences in the characters of the nationalities as an example.  "The character of the Han", he said, "is to pursue profits first, while Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols are more inclined to pursue religious beliefs and happiness. This doesn’t allow them to mix well in the big market economy pot with over a billion Han; it’s like forcing monks to fight with soldiers. The result is to leave Tibetans lamenting “we lost what we had, pursuing what we didn’t need.” Thus, if regional nationality autonomy is to be really implemented, then controlling immigration, safeguarding the environment, protecting the indigenous nationality’s way of life, continuing cultural traditions and safeguarding religious beliefs take on an irreplaceable function. This world cannot have only one sort of lifestyle; nor can it be left with only one culture. Without the protection of regional nationality autonomy any one of China’s nationalities would be hard pressed to avoid being wiped away without a trace by the Han who outnumber them by a hundred thousand to one".

He added that if one day regional nationality autonomy is abolished, then "the “Middle Way Approach” that the Dalai Lama has advocated for decades—i.e., the exercise of a high degree of autonomy by Tibetans in Tibetan areas—will have no grounding. And if the “Middle Way Approach” is left behind, on what will a future democratic China rely, in order to dispel the nationality hatreds that have been engendered by autocratic oppression, and to attain reconciliation and establish a common nation? Liberalism cannot just be about concepts and long range views. It also has to consider applications and procedures. In the U.S. which has no nationality demarcations, are there not also Indian reservations?"

Top Political Advisor Stresses 'rule of law' in Tibet 

China Daily, March 10, 2014 

Politburo Standing Committee member and Chairman of the CPPCC, Yu Zhengsheng, on March 10 stressed adherence to the "rule of law" in Tibet. He made the remarks while taking part in a panel discussion with deputies from TAR during the recent annual NPC session. 

 Yu Zhengsheng said that strengthening the frontier region is the key to governing the country, and that maintaining stability in Tibet is a prerequisite for strengthening the frontier region. He asked authorities to follow the principle of "rule of law" in governing Tibet, take measures to win local people's hearts and make Tibet's development an enduring task. Local officials and people should be helped to get a clear understanding of the nature and danger of the Dalai Lama's preaching of the "middle way" and "high-degree autonomy," he said.

 Tibetan Deputies Submit 35 Proposals to NPC

Tibe.eng.cn, March 11, 2014

The Tibetan delegation submitted 35 proposals to the second session of the 12th National People’s Congress on March 10. The proposals focus on infrastructure construction, livelihood improvement, environmental protection and development of tourism resources in Tibet.


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