Tibet Insight No: 06/14







China to Approve More Hydropower Dams in Tibet

Tibetan Review, March 12, 2014

Despite the huge cost of resettling migrants and added risk of earthquakes, China is to give a new push to building hydropower dams in the mountainous regions of Tibet this year to meet its clean energy target for the 2011-15 Five-Year Plan period. In his report to the National People’s Congress on March 5, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China would start construction on a number of hydro and nuclear power projects this year. He said this was a key part of China’s "war against pollution."

Grace Mang, China Programme Director with the advocacy group International Rivers, said with “the major projects in the pipeline including those on the Yarlong, Dadu and Jinsha (rivers), which could complete construction by 2015, China would meet and exceed its target ... by as much as 5GW-10GW." All these rivers originate in Tibet.

China Begins Laying Power Lines in Tibet

IANS, March 18, 2014

The 6.6 billion Yuan (US$ 1.08 billion) project to construct power lines between Tibet and China's Sichuan province commenced on March 18. Xinhua reports that it is expected to be completed in the first half of 2015 stretching over 1,521 kms. The power line will connect Tibet's Qamdo Prefecture and the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze in Sichuan.

The project covers harsh terrain and work conditions will be difficult as the average altitude is 3,850 metres.

Tibet Opens Four New Domestic Air Routes

Xinhua, March 25, 2014

Lin Mingjing, deputy manager of the marketing department of Tibet Airlines announced on March 25, 2014 that the airline will open four new domestic air routes linking southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and other places.

The air route from Lhasa to Beijing via Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia-Hui Autonomous Region, will start on March 31, while the three other routes from Lhasa to Golmud in Qinghai Province; Lhasa to Xining and Yushu also in Qinghai; and Tibet's Qamdo to Chongqing,  will open next month. All sectors will operate three round-trips a week.


Hundreds of Tibetans Protest Land Seizure

Radio Free Asia- Tibet, March 22, 2014

Hundreds of Tibetans protested on March 16 and 17 in a county in Gansu Province against inadequate compensation paid for the farm land acquired for construction of highways. They protested against the highway projects in Sangchu (in Chinese Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which is linked to gold mining and industrial activities which they claim is polluting the environment and destroying livestock. Some protesters were detained by Sangchu county officials.

Chairman of the CPPCC Tibet Autonomous Region holds meeting

Xizang.gov.cn, March 26, 2014

A meeting was held by Chairman of the TAR CPPCC Pagbalha Namgyal and Deputy Secretary of the TAR CPPCC Lobsang Dorjee on March 24. Deputy Secretary Lobsang Dorjee chaired the 13th meeting of chairpersons of the Tenth TAR CPPCC, which considered the proposals and work plans of the Tenth CPPCC National Committee, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, Social and Legal Affairs Committee and the Historical Data Learning Committee 2014.

The meeting stressed that in 2014, the special committees under the leadership of the Tenth CPPCC Standing Committee and its Chairman, should inter alia, thoroughly implement the series of important speeches of General Secretary Xi Jinping, focus on the overall situation, work to strengthen the Party's mass line, strengthen political consultation and democratic supervision. Vice Chairman Pema Langchen, Lobsang Jigme, Ngawang and Secretary General Sonam Phelgyal attended the meeting.

Tibet Party Chief Adopts Personal Approach

VOA, March 25, 2014

Chinese authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) appear to be trying a new, softer approach to win over the loyalty of Tibetans while continuing to crack down on protesters. TAR Party Chief Chen Quanguo has begun meeting and exchanging letters with monks from restive areas, especially Driru County, the site of several anti-Beijing protests in recent years. While military presence continues in the restive areas, analysts say Chen Quanguo appears to have adopted a more personal approach for dealing with unrest.

Professor Carole McGranahan of Colorado University was quoted by Voice of America (VOA) as saying “I think what we are seeing is, in some ways, what Chen Quanguo is doing is new….This is a technique that we haven't seen from Chinese politicians for a long time.”Chen Quanguo’s predecessor Zhang Qingli took a very hard line on Tibetan religion and called the Dalai Lama “a jackal in Buddhist monk’s robes; an evil spirit with a human face,” but Chen Quanguo has chosen not to attack the Tibetan spiritual leader by using derogatory terms.

Robert Barnett, Director of the Modern Tibet Studies Program at Columbia University, says Chen Quanguo’s main focus since taking over TAR’s leadership has been trying to win the hearts and minds of the people.“Everything we see in policy, especially since 2011, is about trying to win over the masses,” Barnett said. “I think sending the leaders to monasteries and nunneries are part of this realization that the communist party now has to win over the masses, especially the monasteries, which have an important role with the masses.”

Protests Greet Chinese President in The Hague, Paris, and Berlin

Tibetan Review, March 30, 2014

Tibetans and supporters of the Tibetan struggle staged demonstrations as China’s President Xi Jinping visited The Hague, Paris, and Berlin from March 24 onwards. Tibetans joined by members of the Unrepresented Nation and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and Uyghurs, staged demonstrations.

Among the demonstrators in The Hague were Dutch parliamentarian Harry van Bommel, who also spoke. Others included Chinese human rights activist and singer Mona Tang, Chinese dissident and member of the Chinese Democratic Party (Paris) Chen Zhonghe, member of the Chinese Republic Party (New York), Wang Guoxing, Chair of the Tibetan community in the Netherlands Tsewang Loazoen, and the Executive Director of ICT Europe MsTsering Jampa.

Nepal’s Strategic Analyst Supports China

China Daily, March 22, 2014

Bhaskar Koirala, Director of the Nepal Institute of International Strategic Studies, was quoted by the official English-language newspaper, China Daily, as saying that development of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) directly influences Nepal’s domestic situation and foreign affairs.

He added that Tibet’s “economic prosperity and social harmony and stability” are a “necessary external precondition for Nepal’s own development” and beneficial to Nepal. The comments were made in apparent justification of Nepal’s effort to prevent “any anti-China activities within its territory” and improve ties with China.


Xi Jinping refers to Buddhism at UNESCO

Addressing a UNESCO meeting on March 28, Chinese President Xi Jinping devoted two paragraphs to Buddhism and China’s contribution to Buddhist philosophy. He said that “Buddhism originated in ancient India. After it was introduced into China, the religion went through an extended period of integrated development with the indigenous Confucianism and Taoism and finally became the Buddhism with Chinese characteristics, Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang), the Tang monk gave full expression to the determination and fortitude of the Chinese people to learn from other cultures… The Chinese people have enriched Buddhism and developed some special Buddhism thoughts in the light of Chinese culture, and helped it to spread from China to Japan, Korea, Southeast and beyond…. In the course of some two thousand years and more, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity have been introduced into China successively, which allowed the country’s music, painting and literature to benefit from the advantages of other civilizations”.

Two New Instances of Self-Immolation

RFA, March 16, 2014

Radio Free Asia quoting Tibetan sources said that two Tibetans monks set themselves on fire on March 16, the sixth anniversary of a severe crackdown on Tibetans by Chinese authorities.

Lobsang Palden, 20, from the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, self-immolated in Ngaba county while another monk, whose name was not immediately available, set himself on fire in Tsekhon (Zeku) county in Qinghai province’s Malho (Huangna) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the sources said.

Palden’s action was to protest against the violent crackdown on Tibetans on March 16, 2008 in Ngaba when Chinese police opened fire on a crowd of Tibetans, killing at least 10, including one monk. .

In the first incident of self-immolation in Sichuan province’s Bawa region, on the afternoon of March 29, 2014 a Tibetan Buddhist nun set herself on fire near the Ba-Chodhe Monastery in Bathang province of Eastern Kham region of Tibet. Tibetans who were around the monastery for circumambulations rushed the nun to a nearby hospital.
Chinese security forces arrived shortly after the incident and severed all telecommunication links to that area. 

New Restrictions on Monasteries

RFA, March 19, 2014

Authorities have tightened controls on monasteries in Pema county. The six affected monasteries include Akyong monastery in Pema county which witnessed a self-immolation in November 2013.The monasteries have been told that they cannot enforce their own rules and regulations and cannot initiate religious programs, organize language classes for young Tibetans, or listen to news from outside sources. The monasteries are required to seek official approval for the movements of their monks and new restrictions have been imposed on Internet and phone communications in the area.

Dongak Tenzin, a monk of the Akyong monastery, was recently taken away on suspicion of involvement in the case of self-immolation that occurred in November 2013. On March 9, police raided a local restaurant and Internet café.

Six more monks held in Sog County, Tibet

Tibetan Review, March 26, 2014

Chinese police in Sog (Chinese: Suo) County of Nagchu (Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, detained four more monks of the local Drilda Monastery in Trido Township on Mar 17. Two monks of the Sog Tsenden Monastery, Gendun Drakpa, 20, and Choeying Kalden, 20 were detained on March 14 and 16respectively. Gendun Drakpa was held for burning a Chinese national flag and writing a Tibetan independence slogan on the gate of the monastery’s section where Chinese work team members were residing. Choeying Kalden was accused of sending an essay critical of the Chinese government to fellow monks.

 The four Drilda monks have been named as Tsangyang Gyatso (the monastery’s religious chant leader), Tsewang, Atse and Gyaltsen. Details about the Drilda monks could not be ascertained due to China’s tight control on communications.

Chinese Social Media Reveals Militarization of Tibet

The Epoch Times, March 27, 2014

A new report issued by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) claims that  Chinese tourists to Tibet are “stunned” at the grip of the security apparatus in Tibet. It quoted from the blog of a  Chinese tourist “bewildered” by his visit to Lhasa who wrote: “People’s Armed Police, Special Police, snipers, police, troops standing at the ready, it felt like a war was about to start… Has life here always been like this?!” Another was quoted as informing his readers that “There are People’s Armed Police patrolling the streets… They are holding big guns… The streets are full of explosives-proof vehicles and police cars… Repression is in the air… Could something happen? I’m really terrified.”







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