ICT’s Tibet Roundup—2023 Issue 5 (April 1-15)

ICT’s Tibet Roundup is a twice-monthly compilation of curated news from various sources, including Chinese state media, official Chinese documents, briefings, information reported by Tibetans in Tibet and international commentary on Tibet. The roundup is organized in categories, including law, politics, culture, economics, climate and commentary. The focus is on presenting news and reports with limited analysis and editorializing. The frequency and format of the digest may evolve over time.


1. New Party Secretary for Lhasa City’s Chengguan district

According to Chinese state media, Xu Hai was announced as the Secretary of the Chengguan District Party Committee and a member of the Standing Committee of the Lhasa Municipal Committee during a party meeting on April 4.

Xu Hai’s selection as Secretary of the Lhasa City’s Chengguan District Party Committee is significant as the core of Lhasa—consisting of ancient Tibetan cultural institutions like the three great monasteries, the Jokhang temple, Ramoche temple, the Potala Palace, Norbulingka, etc.—falls under his jurisdiction as the Party Secretary of Chengguan District.

2. Government recruitment notice requires anti-Dalai Lama stance from job seekers
Per the Chinese party-state’s policy, a Nyingtri people’s government recruitment notice for temporary staff lists “opposing separatism, exposing and criticizing the Dalai Lama, and safeguarding the unity of the motherland and national unity” as a condition for loyalty to the Communist Party of China. The condition is uniform across all government sectoral recruitments.
3. Loyalty to CCP top priority for a “clean and honest government”

During a conference on the construction of a clean and honest government in early April, the Tibet Autonomous Region Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and the Secretary of the Party Group of the TAR Political Consultative Conference laid out the priorities for a clean and honest government. The top priorities are the political construction of the CCP, strengthening and normalizing political and CCP loyalty education, strictly supervising implementation of the anti-separatist struggle, broadening party members, having the cadres firmly defend the “two establishments” and achieving the “two safeguards.”

Taken together, the two political slogans cement Xi Jinping as the core of the CCP and his rule as unchallengeable.

The two establishments are 1) to establish the status of Xi Jinping as the core of the CCP and 2) to establish the guiding role of Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for the New Era.

The two safeguards are 1) safeguard the core status of General Secretary Xi Jinping within the CCP and 2) to safeguard the centralized authority of the CCP.


4. Woman given administrative punishment for commenting on social media
Lhasa police gave administrative punishment to a woman who was detained for allegedly spreading rumors on April 8. The woman had posted a video clip on Chinese social media commenting that many people in Lhasa are selling off their houses and returning to villages. She also complains that it is hard and stressful to earn a livelihood in Lhasa and it is better to return to the countryside. In expressing her opinion, Lhasa police gave the woman, identified with the surname Yang, administrative punishment, which ranges between five to 10 days detention and up to 500 yuan in fines.


5. Lhasa Religious Work Conference
A religious work conference was held in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, on April 10, according to Chinese state media. The conference was attended by the secretary of the Lhasa municipal committee and emphasized the importance of implementing the party’s guidelines and policies on religious work, promoting the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism and ensuring loyalty to the Chinese government. In guiding the implementation of the religion policy, Lhasa City Party Secretary Phurbu Dhondup in his speech said that Xi Jinping’s speech at the national conference on religion should be the basis of religion policy implementation on decision making, outlook on religion and carrying out religious work in accordance with the party.
6. Removal of prayer flags for environment sanitation
The party-affiliated Management Committee of Dhonbu Choekhor Monastery in a statement on April 10 stated that cadres at the monastery carried out an environment sanitation drive by removing old Tibetan prayer flags around the monastery. According to state media, the cadres’ “voluntary service” was a sense of ownership, to guide the Tibetans to change bad habits, develop good living habits and protect the ecological environment, and establish a scientific, civilized and healthy life concept. The prayer flag removal drive is linked to Xi Jinping’s statement that “protecting the ecology of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the greatest contribution to the survival and development of the Chinese nation.”


7. Research points to manufacturing of consent for pastoralists resettlement

The Chinese state has been resettling millions of Tibetan pastoralists from their ancestral land into state-built housing projects with copayments from the pastoralists. Four hundred and fifty Tibetan villages will have been resettled by 2025 from targeted areas in northwest Nagchu, west Shigatse, east Ngari and west Lhoka. Dr. Emily Yeh and Dr. Yonten Nyima in their paper published in March 2023 show the modus operandi of the Chinese state’s manufactured consent from the pastoralists in Nagchu—the largest pastoral region on the Tibetan plateau—to resettle “voluntarily” into state-built housing projects hundreds of kilometers away from their ancestral land. Despite attachment and resistance against moving away from their land, county and township level officials, who are under pressure from their superiors to meet hard targets, coercively resettle the pastoral families through “a three-step thought work” process that progresses from incentives to warnings, which has resulted in 100% of targeted pastoralists from Nagchu agreeing to resettle in distant, lower-altitude locations.

Despite the evidence of climate change being more significant than grazing in the declining vegetation on the Tibetan Plateau and grazing removal having no impact on mitigating climate warming, the Chinese state continues to resettle Tibetan pastoralists from their ancestral land in the name of “ecological security.”

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