ICT’s Tibet Roundup—2024 Issue 11 (June 16-30)

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. Former Party Secretary of Tibet under corruption investigation

China’s anti-corruption watchdog has launched an investigation into Wu Yingjie, the former Communist Party chief of the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region, for suspected “serious violations of discipline and law,” a euphemism commonly used to describe corruption in China’s political system

Wu Yingjie, 67, spent almost five decades in Tibet, including a five-year term as the Party Secretary of the officially designated “Tibet Autonomous Region” from 2016 to 2021. He is currently a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body.

The investigation was announced on June 17 by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and National Supervisory Commission. Wang Junzheng, the current Party Secretary of Tibet, presided over a meeting to inform local officials about the probe, according to Chinese state media.

Investigation into Wu follows a series of probes into other high-ranking officials in the TAR over the past two years. In January this year, Zhang Yongze, former vice-chairman of the government of the TAR, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined 5 million yuan (US$ 703,000) by the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court of Shaanxi province for accepting bribes totaling over 51.81 million yuan. Zhang, 55, had spent most of his career in the TAR after he began work in 1997. In another corruption case, Jiang Jie, former vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) of the TAR, faced expulsion from the Communist Party of China and dismissal from public office after a case review by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervision Commission.

Tibetans in Tibet have long complained about corruption and rent-seeking by Chinese party and government officials. These cases highlight ongoing concerns about corruption among Chinese party and government officials in Tibet.

2. Party Chief instructs maintenance of grip under guise of “stability”

State media Tibet Daily on June 16 reported that Wang Junzheng, Secretary of the Party Committee of the Autonomous Region and Head of the Leading Group for Maintaining Stability of the Party Committee of the Autonomous Region, presided over a meeting of the Leading Group for Maintaining Stability of the Party Committee of the Autonomous Region.

In the meeting, Wang Junzheng, issued instructions for intensified control measures under the banner of “maintaining stability.” These measures, based on directives from Beijing, threaten to further erode fundamental human rights in an already tightly controlled region.

Some of the key points in Wang’s speech included reinforcing “national security” concepts which inevitably leads to suppression of Tibetan freedom and identity. He also instructed “early risk identification,” which leads to increased surveillance and more intrusive monitoring of daily life. Instructions for maintaining stricter ideological oversight, tighter control over religious practices lead to curtailment of religious, expression and thoughts freedoms. Another critical instruction was increasing the Party presence in grassroots governance by cultivating local cadres loyal to the Party.

Wang’s call to avoid “formalism” in implementing these measures implies a push for more concrete actions, couched in bureaucratic language of “stability” and “harmony”, potentially leading to increased pressure on Tibetan communities.

3. Qinghai intensifies efforts to Sinicize Tibetan Buddhism

In a recent expanded meeting of Qinghai’s United Front Work Department following CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s visit to Xining on June 18, officials focused on implementing the directives from Xi. Ban Guo, member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Qinghai Provincial Committee and Minister of the United Front Work Department, presided over the expanded meeting.
Following Xi’s goal direction and guidance for Chinese-style modernization in Qinghai, key points from the meeting included:

  1. Full implementation of school ideological and political courses aimed at fostering a “sense of Chinese national community”. Extensive political “education” and guiding teachers and students to establish a “sense of community for the Chinese nation”.
  2. Continuing efforts to “sinicize” religions, particularly Tibetan Buddhism.
  3. Implementing state policies on the reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist teachers.
  4. Enhancing mechanisms to prevent and resolve “risks” in ethnic and religious spheres.


4. Sacred Tibetan site closed

Chinese authorities have issued a directive restricting access to Nyenbo Yurtse, a sacred Tibetan site in Golok Prefecture, Qinghai Province. Golok Prefecture Nyenbo Yurtse Nature Reserve Protection Management Bureau prohibited individuals and organizations from entering the area without prior permission in a five-point public notice issued on June 17.

The five-point public notice, obtained by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, warns of strict punishments for violators and requires individuals to report any unauthorized activities. This move significantly impacts Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, particularly those in Golok, for whom Nyenbo Yurtse is a revered mountain and pilgrimage site. Local Tibetans view the ban as an attempt to prevent traditional religious gatherings and rituals.

Nyenbo Yurtse has historically attracted thousands of Tibetan pilgrims annually. However, since 2018, when Chinese authorities closed the site citing environmental protection, visitor numbers have drastically decreased. The restrictions align with China’s broader efforts to incorporate Nyenbo Yurtse into the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, dubbed as “Asia’s Water Tower”, which spans four Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures.

5. Ideological control over Tibetan religious communities in Lhasa

Implementing China’s escalating efforts to control and reshape Tibetan religious practices through its “Three Consciousness” indoctrination program, a recent meeting in Lhasa, led by senior United Front official Kelsang Tsering, signals a expansion of this ideological campaign targeting monastic communities in and around Lhasa.

On June 19, a transition meeting for the religious community’s “national consciousness, civic consciousness, and legal consciousness education” and the second dispatch meeting in 2024 was organized in Lhasa. Kelsang Tsering, member of the Standing Committee of the Lhasa Municipal Party Committee, concurrently holding titles of Minister of the United Front Work Department, Deputy Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the Municipal CPPCC, and Executive Deputy Leader of the Municipal Religious Community’s “Three Consciousnesses” Education Leading Group, presided over the meeting.

The meeting pointed out that since the launch of the second phase of the “Three Consciousnesses” education in the religious community, the United Front religious departments and temple management committees at all levels in the city have fully implemented the instructions of TAR Party Secretary Wang Junzheng, and implemented the overall requirements of the “Three Consciousnesses” education in the religious community. Although not specified, the state media reported that the “phased results have been achieved” which indicates rigorous harassment of the religious community to comply with the official directives.

Rolling out the third phase of the program, Kelsang instructed that the party officials should deepen the implementation of the so-called “three consciousness education” to create a “socialist modern new Lhasa”.

The program, which aims to instill “national, civic, and legal consciousness” in religious groups, represents a severe infringement on religious freedom and cultural rights as part of the broader strategy to Sinicize Tibetan Buddhism.


6. Google translate includes Tibetan language

Google has announced a major expansion of its translation service, adding 110 new languages to Google Translate, including Tibetan. This significant update was announced on a blogpost on June 27, 2024.

While Google has not specified an exact launch date for the Tibetan language service, it is expected to become available in the coming days on and the Google Translate mobile apps according to Google.

This expansion is part of Google’s broader 1,000 Languages Initiative, announced in 2022, which aims to support the thousand most spoken languages globally using artificial intelligence.

With the addition of Tibetan to Google Translate, speakers of the language now have access to machine translation services from multiple providers, including Monlam AI, Microsoft’s Bing translation, and Google Translate.

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