By Tenzin Dharpo
the Ai Weiwei Perspective scarf featuring an image from the artist's series 'Study of Perspective - Tiananmen 1995–2003'
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 5: The Chinese government in the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has announced huge monetary incentive for reporting “illegal” online contents as part of its “social supervision strategy to mobilise the general public to effectively prevent and combat illegal and criminal online contents”.
Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said that the Chinese authorities of the TAR Internet Information Office, TAR Public Security Department and TAR Communications Administration have sent a notice in February, announcing cash rewards up to 300,000 Yuan (approx. USD 44,000) for anyone reporting online activities banned by the government.
The drive is seen as yet another measure to further curb the freedom of expression of Tibetans, covering a wide range of areas that essentially discourages any activities that go against China’s narrative in the region.
The banned activities include the use of network communication tools ‘to collect, produce, download, store, publish, disseminate, and publicise malicious attacks against the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government, the socialist system, the regional ethnic autonomy system, and the party and the government’s policy of managing TAR as well as the “fabrication or deliberate dissemination of information that damages the image of the country, seriously jeopardises the interests of the country, and distorts the history of the party, the nation and the army.”
The notice also criminalises information that contains “subverting state power, overthrowing the socialist system, and splitting the country”, a blanket charge that continues to be employed in silencing dissent in occupied Tibet.
The notice additionally covered a wide range of other criminalised activities such as “Challenging China’s territorial claims over Tibet”, “Participating in separatist activities,” “Calling for the ‘middle way”, “advocacy of mother tongue”, “Using religion to interfere in grassroots-level administrative affairs or education”.
The rights group, expressing reservations on the new notice, said, “The vaguely defined crimes allow more leeway for Chinese authorities to persecute persons engaging in peaceful dissent and criticism of repressive government policies. In the name of ‘social supervision’ strategy, the Chinese authorities is determined to turn the public into government spies, as the incentives that are offered require the Tibetans to report on each other. This is just one example of the creation of a police state in Tibet.”