News and Views on Tibet

Tibetan publishing houses in Tibet under severe clampdown

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By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, Nov 15: The publishing industry in Tibet has faced escalating control and censorship lately, with the Chinese government imposing stringent restrictions on independent Tibetan publishing houses, according to Tibet Times.

The Chinese government’s  White Paper, released on Nov. 10, claimed to uphold “the study and use of the Tibetan language and script,” highlighting the statistics of publications and periodicals in Tibetan. The propaganda document asserted the publications of 17 periodicals, 11 newspapers, and 45.01 million copies of Tibetan-language books by the end of 2022 in the region. However, these claims stand in stark contrast to reports from independent sources, such as the TT report, which indicate that despite these statistics, the Chinese government’s policies and regulations have imposed severe limitations on the operational independence of Tibetan publishing houses. 

The report highlighted that independent Tibetan writers are facing severe constraints imposed by the Chinese government and these constraints have notably affected the operations of Tibetan publishing houses. According to a prominent Tibetan writer inside Tibet who chose to remain anonymous told TT, “The Chinese government has implemented stringent regulations and control mechanisms targeting Tibetan publishing houses that have previously published works by imprisoned writers.” The same source revealed that publishing houses within Tibet face considerable restrictions in publishing scripts without explicit permission from the government. Furthermore, the content published by these houses is subjected to strict scrutiny, particularly censoring any material containing dissenting voices or critical thinking.

Another source inside Tibet told TT about the notable decline in the Chinese government’s investment in Tibetan publishing houses in recent years. Reportedly, the scripts related to Tibetan literature, history, and Buddhism face severe restrictions in terms of publication by the government. Contrastingly, the same source highlighted a disparity in the treatment of scripts on Chinese history, specifically the history of the Chinese empire and its leaders when translated into Tibetan, gaining publication approval. 

The 32-page White Paper by the Chinese government presented the numerical achievements in terms of the number of Tibetan-language publications, it disregards the qualitative essence of the materials and their content, the report noted. The periodicals, newspapers, and books highlighted in the White Paper fail to authentically capture and reflect the genuine narratives and perspectives of Tibetan culture and heritage. Instead, the content of these publications predominantly promotes Xi Jinping’s socialist ideology and the principles advocated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Reports also indicate that websites managed or operated by Tibetans are often utilised by Chinese authorities as a platform to propagate state-sponsored propaganda promoting narratives that support the Chinese government’s political objectives. These websites, when utilised to disseminate content that aligns with the government’s agenda and ideologies, are seemingly allowed to function and continue their operations. However, when these websites choose to prioritise the use of Tibetan language, they face immediate shutdown or censorship measures.

The severe restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on publishing houses in Tibet, analysts say, have significantly curtailed freedom of expression, cultural preservation, and intellectual diversity within the region. 

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