ICT’s Tibet Roundup—2024 Issue 4 (Mar. 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.


1. Large state-owned conglomerate’s agreement for strategic cooperation concerning

The officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region and CITIC Group Corporation signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement on March 12 for “economic development and cooperation.” The discussions between Wang Junzheng, CCP secretary of the officially designated TAR, and Xi Guohua, secretary of the Party Committee and chairman of CITIC Group Corporation in Beijing, raise concerns about the implications of the partnership on the rights and well-being of Tibetans.

While the signing of a strategic cooperation framework agreement between the Tibet Autonomous Region and CITIC Group Corporation signals intentions to “bolster economic development” according to state media, the economic interests of the state and corporations is prioritized over the rights and autonomy of Tibetans most of the time.

Tibetans in very large numbers have already been put through forced resettlement, cultural suppression and limitations on religious practices under the Chinese state’s slogan of “economic development.”

Xi Guohua’s strategic comment on commitment to leveraging CITIC Group’s resources to “support” Tibet’s industrial development comes against the backdrop of potential land grabs and environmental degradation, like the recent displacement orders issued by authorities to build the Kamtog dam in Derge (Chinese: Dege) county.

CITIC Group Corporation, commonly known as CITIC Group, is a large state-owned conglomerate. It is one of the oldest and largest conglomerates in the country, with interests across various sectors including finance, real estate, infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and telecommunications.

2. Disseminate at grassroots level and integrate decisions of China’s ‘two sessions’ in local government work, instructs TAR CCP secretary

A day after China’s “two sessions” concluded, a plenary meeting of the delegation of the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region was presided over by Wang Junzheng, CCP secretary of the TAR, on March 11.

On top of reviewing the draft resolutions concerning the work reports by China’s key institutions, Wang told the Tibetan delegation to uphold the principles of the “two overall situations” and prioritize the interests of the Chinese state.

Wang gave instructions to deeply study, publicize and implement the “spirit of the two sessions” and disseminate it at the grassroots level while adapting to the local context and employing methods to ensure its understanding and retention by Tibetans. He also stressed integration of the decisions of China’s two sessions into the local government’s regional and departmental work.

China utilizes the representation of Tibetans at the national two sessions as a justification for implementing the country’s top-down decision approach. This is despite the fact that Tibetans hold mainly token positions while real power resides in the hands of non-Tibetans.

3. TAR CCP secretary’s discourse indicates continued focus on Tibet’s rural work

The delegation of the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region to China’s two sessions convened a group meeting and held a scripted event for the predominantly Chinese media on March 6.

In his speech, Wang Junzheng, CCP secretary heading the delegation of the officially designated TAR, emphasized Xi Jinping’s speech and aligning the delegation’s actions with the Party Central Committee and Xi’s instructions in Tibet. Wang also emphasized implementation of the party’s decisions to achieve the party’s goals of “long-term stability and high-quality development”; the former a perennial goal and the latter a goal since the 20th party congress in October 2022.

Wang’s discourse with keywords such as “grassroots governance,” “rural revitalization” and “people’s livelihood” indicates the party’s continued focus on Tibet’s rural areas and tweaking the governance model.

4. Heightened security for Tibetans in Chengdu

In addition to increasing security presence in all Tibetan-inhabited areas within the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, there was a noticeable escalation of security measures in the Tibetan quarter of Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province. This area, home to approximately 30,000 Tibetans, witnessed a heavy security presence leading up to the Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10.

According to a report by The Japan News on March 16, a field visit conducted in mid-February to the Tibetan quarters in Chengdu revealed that shops selling Tibetan Buddhist items and books were closely monitored by heavily armed police officers stationed at every intersection. Additionally, numerous surveillance cameras were observed throughout the area, maintaining vigilant surveillance over Tibetan monks and residents.

Despite the extensive security measures in place, the report captured a poignant remark from a Tibetan monk shopping in one of the stores. Expressing a quiet determination to preserve Tibetan religion and culture in the face of challenges posed by Chinese authorities, the monk was quoted as saying in a low voice, “We have to preserve our religion and culture.”

5. Distressed mother of Tibetan detainee passes away

On Feb. 17, 2024, Phude, the mother of Tibetan writer and political detainee Tenzin Khenrab, passed away as her depression worsened. Phude had endured over a year of uncertainty regarding the whereabouts and well-being of her 29-year-old son, who had been arrested.

According to Tibet Watch, Phude’s declining health was directly linked to her distress over her son’s situation. Held in incommunicado detention for more than a year, Tenzin Khenrab’s case left his mother desperate for information and visits, which authorities consistently denied. The anguish and lack of resolution eventually led to Phude’s deteriorating health and, ultimately, her passing at the age of 53.

Tenzin Khenrab, a writer hailing from Wuthok Village in Nyakchu county and a monk with scholarship at Wothok Monastery and Lithang Monastery, was arrested last year for possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama on his phone, along with various e-books, the content of which likely are related to Tibetan activism.

6. Tibetan political prisoner released with crippled leg

Ludup, a Tibetan prisoner who endured three and a half years of incarceration, was released last month bearing injuries sustained during his imprisonment. Despite his release, he remains under police surveillance and lacks access to medical assistance, as reported by the research group Tibet Watch.

According to Tibet Watch, Ludup suffered severe leg injuries due to his grueling forced labor shifts, leaving him with a crippled leg. Despite his disability, Ludup is frequently summoned for interrogation and subjected to political re-education sessions by the authorities of Meruma Township police in Ngaba County, Sichuan.

Formerly known as Rinchen Goedoe, Ludup was a resident of village number four in Meruma Township, Ngaba County and had been affiliated with Kirti Monastery since childhood. At 54 years old, he was arrested in Ngaba County in June 2020, 12 years after participating in a protest in front of Kirti Monastery in Ngaba on March 16, 2008, during a period of heightened protests across Tibet. Sources informed Tibet Watch that Ludup’s family was not informed about the court overseeing his trial, nor were they notified of the charges against him.

Prior to his arrest, Ludup had spent the years 2008 to 2020 evading the police, who eventually issued a public notice soliciting information from the residents of Meruma in Ngaba regarding Ludup and several other Kirti monks allegedly involved in an “illegal protest movement.” Subsequently, Ludup served his sentence in Deyang Prison in Huang Xu Town, Deyang City, Sichuan province.

Without an identity card and no replacement issued, Ludup encounters difficulties accessing medical care at hospitals.

We welcome your feedback! Send any thoughts about ICT’s Tibet Roundup and ideas for future changes to [email protected].