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.