China’s state-controlled television and radio in Tibet is surprising visitors to a newly launched website with a music video of the banned Tibetan national anthem. The song, called ‘Gyalu’ in Tibetan, is sung by exile Tibetans across the world but has been banned in Tibet for more than 50 years.
The national anthem video, which starts with a chorus of children singing the song, plays on the app download page of the state broadcaster’s website.
The launch of the new app late last month was touted in Chinese state media with photographs of Meng Xiao Ling, the party propaganda deputy chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region, inspecting it and apparently giving it the green light.
The banned Tibetan national anthem on a state-controlled media website is likely to create confusion among Tibetans since playing the Tibetan national anthem is normally considered a criminal offense.
Anthem: "Let the radiant light shine of Buddha’s wish-fulfilling gem teachings, the treasure chest of all hopes for happiness and benefit in both secular life and liberation."
It is not known how the video of the anthem became placed on the state-run website.
In a small bit of irony, the song's appearance on an official website comes as China has announced plans in recent days to tighten the already heavily controlled media environment in Tibetan regions.
Official reports say the government will confiscate illegal satellite dishes, increase monitoring of online content and make sure all telephone and Internet users are registered using their real names.
The communist party's top-ranking official in the region, Chen Quanguo, in an editorial published in the party journal Qiushi, vowed to "ensure that the voices of hostile forces and the Dalai (Lama) group are not seen or heard."
Tensions between Tibetans and the Chinese government have been high since 2009, with more than 120 Tibetans setting themselves on fire in protest of Chinese rule, leading to security crackdowns across the Tibetan plateau.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Tibetan service.