Controversial new regulations on “ethnic unity” will come into effect in the Tibet Autonomous Region on May 1, 2020. The International Campaign for Tibet will be closely monitoring their implementation.

The “Regulations on the Establishment of a Model Area for Ethnic Unity and Progress in the Tibet Autonomous Region” were adopted by the TAR People’s Congress on Jan. 11. The TAR spans about half of traditional Tibet, a historically independent country that China has brutally occupied for more than 60 years.

The regulations explicitly depart from the principle of “preferential treatment” for Tibetans, which was supposed to guarantee that Tibetans could maintain their culture and traditional way of life in their own homeland.

In contrast, the new regulations give the Chinese government powers to enforce a Chinese-centric way of life in the TAR and to cultivate informants for the Chinese Communist Party. As the effects of stated policies of “preferential treatment” have been negligible, the new regulations give additional reason for concern, as they may contribute to an exacerbation of a discriminatory treatment of Tibetans that is already in place.

By asserting a dominant ethnic culture with the aim to Sinicize the Tibetan people, the regulations violate international human rights standards, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Tibet observers are concerned that China will use the new rules to crack down on Tibetans, as it used similar rules to justify its crackdown on the Uyghurs, a Muslim community that the Chinese government has infamously locked up in large-scale prisoner-education camps.

ICT calls on national governments and the international community as a whole to monitor the implementation of these regulations in Tibet and ensure that China’s actions conform with global human rights standards.