More Security Tightening in Tibet

It appears the Chinese government is taking no chances with the upcoming anniversary of last year’s unrest in Tibet and other Tibetan ethnic regions. The New York Times is reporting that

the authorities have imposed an unofficial state of martial law on the vast highlands where ethnic Tibetans live, with thousands of troops occupying areas they fear could erupt in renewed rioting on a momentous anniversary next week. And Beijing is determined to keep foreigners from seeing the mass deployment.


Tibetan regions, a sprawling, lightly populated swath of western China that measures about one-quarter of the country’s total territory, have become militarized zones. Sandbag outposts have been set up in the middle of towns, army convoys rumble along highways, and paramilitary officers search civilian cars. A curfew has been imposed on Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

The reporter, Edward Wong, says he got a look at the situation firsthand while being driven through some of the areas during the 20 hours he was held — with no explanation given — in police custody.

As we reported yesterday, the propaganda machine is already firing on all cylinders to put China’s side of the Tibetan story out to the world at large. Now it seems extra security is being rolled in to be sure nothing that could embarrass the government happens, and foreigners are being kept out in case it does.

Nepal, too, is concerned about the anniversary (there was some unrest there as well) and has banned all protesting around the Chinese embassy.

Perhaps related, perhaps coincidental, is that popular video-sharing site Youtube has very recently been blocked in China (h/t Danwei), or at least, there are reports from various parts of the country that the site is blocked. ChinaGeeks can confirm that the site is currently inaccessible in Harbin. Mutant Palm has a more detailed breakdown of the blockage reports for those interested.

UPDATE: As of March 6 at 12:45 Beijing time, Youtube access was back (at least in Harbin). A search for “Tibet Protest” in English revealed no censorship, but a search using the same keywords in Chinese appeared similarly uncensored at first glance.

0 thoughts on “More Security Tightening in Tibet”

  1. Being as the comments are closed on yesterday’s thread, I’ll reply here. I “grievously misunderstood” you because of your labelling of Chinese government statistics as “fairly powerful”. Quite a superlative, I would have said.


  2. Yes, there’s nothing quite as superlative as the word “fairly”.

    Edit: Regarding the comments on the last post, I’m not sure how they got closed, but they’re now open again.


  3. Look up what “superlative” means. If you want to argue with my choice of the term “powerful”, fine, but it’s not a superlative, and neither is “fairly”. “Fairly”, however, is in the place where a superlative, had I used one, would go, i.e., “extremely powerful”.

    And frankly, I think such an extreme reduction of illiteracy rates IS powerful, and I would think that if it had been accomplished by any government, in any country. Do you really disagree?


  4. Comments are locked (it seems? not sure) so I’ll reply to yesterday’s thread here.
    I should preface this by saying I don’t support independence.

    That having been said, the argument is often framed by the government saying “Look how nice we are to the Tibetans! How can you say we’re oppressing anybody?!” followed by statistics about how great Tibet is now compared to before (with the implication that it is all because of China). To me this almost has an admission of guilt wrapped in it.

    I’ve talked to many (relatively) open-minded Chinese that tell me, “well, yes, there is oppression over there, but just look how much worse it was before!” Definitely there is the feeling on the part of some people (who are probably a bit more knowledgeable and don’t necessarily buy all the government claptrap) that they need to justify and rationalize what’s happening.

    To me, this type of rationalizing totally misses the point. The grievances are about cultural and religious rights. Nobody complains that Tibet doesn’t get enough help from the government as far as infrastructure goes.

    As for what you quoted the report saying above about illiteracy in Tibet being 2.4% overall, that’s so ridiculous I laughed out loud when I read it. I doubt anyone outside China and many inside would take it seriously.


  5. @ Charles
    I would be surprised if Beijing and Shanghai had (real) 2.4% illiteracy rates, much less a place like Tibet (or other Tibetan regions). This is doubly true since I bet (though I don’t know) that literacy only counts as Chinese literacy, and there are plenty of rural Tibetans that can’t even speak Chinese, much less read and write it.

    I read an interesting article once about how the official statistics about literacy on the mainland are really inaccurate. I’ll try to google it up later when I have time.


  6. Edit: misread your comment, yes, that statistic is obviously high, but I think it would be difficult for anyone to argue that the literacy rate hasn’t increased by an extremely significant margin in the past 60 years.

    I would guess what they’re talking about is Tibetan literacy among Tibetan ethnic people, though, partially because of the context in that part of the report, and partially because that’s likely to be higher than the Chinese literacy rate among Tibetans, and they want to make things look good.

    Re: comments on the other thread, they should be open again. Still not sure how they got closed but they work fine for me now, let me know if anyone has issues with it.


  7. C Custer, you are a prat of the highest order. Oxford Concise Dic: superlative *noun, a hyperbolical expression of praise – said expression being “fairly powerful”, which you tried to reduce to “fairly” to argue against the indefensible. I think you were getting your adverbs and nouns mixed up. The clue was in my sentence “quite a superlative”, “a” being the determining component.

    Anyway, this is beside the point, which is: if you don’t think describing statistics as “fairly powerful” is likely to lead your readers to think you find those statistics credible, then you have a serious communication problem and should probably give up blogging.


  8. And “fairly powerful” to you constitutes a hyperbolical expression of praise?!? I’ll admit that perhaps I could have chosen slightly clearer phrasing, as my intent was to indicate that the statistics look impressive, not that they are necessarily credible (although I don’t think “powerful” and “credible” are necessarily the same thing anyway), but “fairly powerful” is neither hyperbolic nor praise. Powerful does not necessarily mean good.

    I’m done arguing about this, but I will point out that for the record I stand by the piece and see no particular problem with the wording. I’ll admit it could be better, but this is a hobby I have on top of a full time job and a part time job; I haven’t got time to make sure every word is absolutely perfect and still maintain a reasonable posting schedule.

    Additionally, further name-calling, no matter who it’s directed at, will result in disemvowelment. You have been warned.


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