ICT’s Tibet Roundup—2023 Issue 8 (May 15-31)

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.


1. Cadres conference in Lhasa

A work conference of all the resident cadres stationed in villages across the Tibet Autonomous Region was held in Lhasa on May 18. The Party Secretary, Wang Junzheng, in his speech instructed the cadres to consolidate their ideological foundation by adhering to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and the implementation of the spirit of the 20th Party Congress for “long-term stability and high-quality development” in the TAR. The meeting discussed maintaining stability, building national unity, developing new industries and enhancing CCP organizational foundations in the villages. The meeting also discussed conducting “anti-separatist education,” implementing the “double-linked households” work and forging the awareness of the Chinese national community.

2. Nepali delegation in Lhasa

TAR Party Secretary Wang Junzheng met with a Nepali delegation led by Agni Prasad Sapkota, Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal and former Speaker of the Nepali Parliament, in Lhasa on May 20. Wang emphasized to the Nepali delegation Chinese President Xi Jinping’s past messages for building China-Nepal relations, including jointly constructing the “Belt and Road.” Wang also spoke about China connecting to South Asia and constructing a trans-Himalayan “three-dimensional interconnection network” on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the “Belt and Road Initiative.”

3. PLA’s study meeting for militia

The People’s Armed Forces Department of Zituo Town in Lhorong (Chinese: Luolong) County, Chamdo (Qamdo) City organized a study meeting for 20 militias to implement the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and the National Defense Law and Regulations on Militia Work. The meeting aimed to deepen the understanding of the Party Congress and improve political awareness among the militiamen, according to state media on May 19. The PLA aims to elevate the militia’s work for mobilization and creation of reserve forces.


4. Shanghai-Dhingri charter flight

The first charter flight with 100 tourists was flown from Shanghai to Dhingri (Tingri) Airport, on the western edge of Tibet, on “China Tourism Day” on May 19. State media claimed the chartered tourists flight was part of the “Shanghai-Shigatse” aid-Tibet counterpart assistance program.

5. Seven villages ordered to vacate for dam

According to an order issued by the authorities in Lingya Village in Rebgong (Tongren) county in Qinghai, Tibetan farmers in seven villages must vacate their land within 10 days of the date the order was issued, May 23. The villages fall in the project site for construction of a hydropower dam. It appears that compensation for the villagers is not mentioned in the order. Defiance or failure to comply with “development” orders might result in long imprisonment terms, as evident in the imprisonment of 10 Tibetans in Sangchu county in Kansu (Gansu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in mid-2020.

6. Prehistoric deep-sea predator fossils discovered near Mt. Everest

A prehistoric deep-sea predator’s fossils with well-preserved vertebrae and ribs were discovered, approximately 4,000 meters above sea level, in Gangkar town, Dhingri (Tingri) County in the Tibet Autonomous Region, reported Chinese state media on May 23. The fossils were discovered about 100 kilometers away from Mt. Everest. The Himalayasaurus is an extinct reptile that lived 210 million years ago, predating dinosaurs. The reptile was a fast swimmer with a long mouth, sharp teeth and a body over 10 meters long. The discovery was made by an expedition team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleonthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


7. “Three consciousness” campaign to enter second phase

The Chinese authorities held a work conference in Lhasa, Tibet, focusing on the transition of “Three Consciousness” education for monastics. Karma Tseten, a member of the standing committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) CCP and also the minister of the United Front Work Department of the TAR, signaled the deployment of the second phase of the “Three Consciousness” campaign. The first phase focused on “education,” and the second phase focuses on “learning, thinking, practicing, and enlightening.” The CCP’s three consciousness campaign in the monastic institutions calls for indoctrination of “national consciousness, citizen consciousness, and rule of law consciousness” among the monastics. During the work conference, the goal of the “three consciousness” campaign was emphasized as Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism and to “serve the overall objectives of the region, including the development of a socialist modernized Tibet.” According to Chinese state propaganda, the “Three Consciousness” campaign ensures that “the monks and nuns are more closely united around the party and the government.”

8. Symposium for unified textbooks for teaching Tibetan Buddhism

A symposium was held in Beijing on May 24 to discuss the compilation and publication of teaching materials for the “three-level academic titles” of Tibetan Buddhism. Zheng Dui, Deputy Director of the Central Tibet Work Coordination Group Office, attended the meeting. Other Chinese government bureaucratic representations from the United Front Work Department of the CCP Central Committee, as well as from the TAR and other Tibetan areas, the Buddhist Association of China, the editorial committee of the teaching materials of Tibetan Buddhism and scripture teachers from various Tibetan monastic institutions were also present at the meeting.

Led by the Advanced Buddhist College of the Tibetan Language Department of China, the Textbook Compilation Committee for the Unified Compilation of Three-Level Academic Titles was established in 2016. To date, 24 textbooks for public courses, 135 textbooks for professional courses and 19 tutorials have reportedly been published. While the stated purpose is to create “standardized, unified, and authoritative teaching materials” for teaching Tibetan Buddhism, it is important to view the meeting as setting the curriculum of the monastic institutions, which was free of political interference in historical Tibetan society. Traditional teaching materials carried content reflecting tradition and values, unlike the political curriculum drawn under the control of Chinese bureaucracies.

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