News and Views on Tibet

China announces campaign against ‘illegal’ online activities in Tibet

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Chinese paramilitary firefighters stand guard at the Great Hall of People in Beijing in 2018 (Photo- AP)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Jan 8: Chinese police in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have yet again announced campaign against individuals who take part in online activities to “split the country” and “undermine national unity” in a notice dated 24 Nov.  The public announcement listed a range of illegal online activities such as usage of virtual private network and joining groups on social media platforms, warning that authorities would “strike hard” against the offenders.

The Dharamshala-based rights organisation noted last month that a similar notice was released in Feb 2019 that criminalised activities to “collect, produce, download, store, publish, disseminate, and publicise malicious attacks against the CCP and the Chinese government, the socialist system, the regional ethnic autonomy system, and the party and the government’s policy of managing TAR.” It offered rewards up to 300,000 Yuan ($45858.9) in a directive issued by TAR Public Security Bureau in 2019.

The restrictions were also imposed in other Tibetan areas in Qinghai Province where local police announced imprisonment for eight years. The Chinese notice read, “It is not allowed to publish and spread information that distorts history, dilutes national consciousness, uses religious content, religious activities, etc. to attack the party and state policies, and slander the socialist system.” It is also not allowed to use instant messaging tools and social forums to communicate with organisations that are deemed to undermine national security.

Chinese authorities have outlawed international online platforms and search engines such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and substituted them apps like WeChat and Weibo in their own internet platform guarded by the “Great Firewall”. The report cited that a study by Chinese microblogging sites concluded that half of messages originating from Tibet are deleted as compared to 12% from Beijing.

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