News / Asia

China Intensifies Digital, Human Surveillance of Tibetans

VOA News
China appears to be intensifying its monitoring of Tibetans, requiring them to provide real names to IT service providers and sending thousands of Communist Party members to villages to observe their activities.

State-run news agency Xinhua said Wednesday the government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region has registered the real names of all Internet users and subscribers of fixed line and mobile phone services under its jurisdiction. It said 2.8 million Tibetan phone users and 1.5 million Tibetan Internet users completed the registration process by the end of 2012, as required by a regional law.

Xinhua quoted regional official Dai Jianguo as saying China's monitoring of the identities of Tibetan phone and Internet subscribers is necessary to curb "rampant circulation of online rumors, pornography and spam messages."

But, human rights activists accuse Beijing of significantly expanding its surveillance of Tibetans in recent years to try to suppress an ethnic group it sees as a security threat.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday Beijing has sent more than 20,000 Communist Party members to Tibetan villages to "undertake intrusive surveillance of people, carry out widespread political re-education, and establish partisan security units."

The group's China director Sophie Richardson told VOA such activities are quite different from improving Tibetan living standards, which Beijing declared as a goal of the village program, launched in 2011.

"There is this explicit surveillance agenda of monitoring people's political views, whether they have photos of the Dalai Lama, whether they know anything about immolations, I think it is particularly alarming to us that even children have essentially been interrogated by these cadres," she said. "They have also set up yet another form of local quasi police teams, which raises a lot of questions about whether arrests of detentions or even interrogations are taking place on the basis of objective law as opposed to partisan agenda."

The Chinese government views the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, as a separatist and a traitor. The Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking dialogue aimed at establishing Tibetan autonomy.

Beijing has tightened security in Tibetan areas following a series of mass anti-government demonstrations and riots in 2008 against what many Tibetans see as Chinese repression of their religion and culture.

Chinese authorities also have faced a wave of at least 119 self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Beijing's policies since 2009. Richardson said those challenges have hardened the Chinese government's view of Tibetans.

"We have really seen the central government and local authorities perceive Tibetans much more in criminal terms -- that to talk about immolation is being criminalized, that to express criticism of the government's policies is regarded much more harshly now than it was. So this level of surveillance certainly stems both from those concerns but also from the central government's national drive of stability maintenance which we've seen cause all sorts of similar problems in other parts of the country," she said.

China says its huge infrastructure investments in Tibetan areas have measurably improved the quality of life for Tibetans in recent years.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More