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China Mobilises Han Diaspora to Counter Tibetan Diaspora

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security,which is responsible for internal intelligence and security and oversees the administration of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, is reported to have issued instructions to the Chinese Embassies in countries having a large number of Tibetan refugees to mobilise the local Han residents to counter the anti-Beijing propaganda and activities of the Tibetan refugees and to prevent any attempt by the refugees to disrupt the passage of the Olympic torch through different countries.They have been advised to counter them through the Internet as well as on the ground. These instructions have reportedly come on the eve of the planned observance of March 31,2008, as a “Day of Action” by the Tibetan diaspora. On this day, the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) proposes to hand over to the Chinese Embassies in important countries a petition calling for Tibetan independence, which has been signed by over one million people—-Tibetans as well as foreigners— all over the world. The petition was circulated and the signatures obtained through the Internet.

2. The Chinese have been concerned over the effective manner in which the TYC and Tibetan exile groups supporting it have been using the Internet to keep in touch with each other, to propagate the cause of Tibetan freedom, to carry on propaganda against Beijing and to call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. Despite the Chinese clamp-down on the use of the Internet and mobile telephones in Tibet, Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu, the TYC office-bearers abroad and the leaders of the Uprising Movement, formed by the TYC inside the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China, continue to exchange communications with each other and keep the world informed of what has been going on inside Tibet. Thanks to the Internet and the mobile telephones and the ingenuity of the Tibetan youth, the Chinese have failed to impose a total iron curtain around the Tibetan-inhabited areas, though a partial iron curtain, which is 75 per cent effective, functions. Even young Tibetan monks in Tibet and other provinces have become adept in the use of the Internet.

3. The Han diaspora abroad has been advised to copy-cat the Tibetan use of the Internet in order to widely disseminate the Chinese version of the developments in Tibet since March 10,2008. There has been a mushrooming of Han-run blogs and chat rooms in the last one week to counter the Western version of the developments. A visit to some of these sites indicates that while they have been hitting hard at the Dalai Lama and his so-called clique and at Western media and Governments, they are avoiding any criticism of India. They are also avoiding blaming India for the activities of the Dalai Lama and the TYC.The Chinese authorities have been avoiding taking cognisance of the TYC and giving it a locus standi in the Tibetan issue. Instead, they continue to blame what they call the Dalai clique, which includes His Holiness himself, his set-up in Dharamsala, the TYC and other Tibetan non-governmental organisations agitating on the issue of the Tibetan rights.

4. The Chinese do not want to give the impression that they are doubting the sincerity of the Government of India when it says that it continues to regard Tibet as an integral part of China and is opposed to any anti-China activities from its territory. While accusing the Western countries of following double-standards with regard to the use of force to deal with internal disturbances, they have been avoiding projecting the uprising in the Tibetan-inhabited areas as engineered by the West. They have been recalling the ruthless manner in which President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, as the Interior Minister in 2005, put down the riots by the Muslim migrants in France and describing his present expression of concern over the Chinese use of force against the Tibetans as hypocrisy.

5. While continuing to make arrests of the suspected participants in the uprising and those, who could pose a threat during the passage of the Olympic flame through Tibet, they have at the same time mounted a campaign to re-assure the Western Governments and investors that the situation in Tibet is not as bad as projected by the Western media and has returned to normal. Their exercise to take teams of foreign journalists and diplomats to Lhasa to see the situation for themselves proved an embarrassment. When the journalists were visiting a monastery in Lhasa, a group of monks shouted anti-Chinese and pro-Dalai Lama slogans. The diplomats have expressed their dissatisfaction over the way the Chinese sought to exercise strict control over their movements in Lhasa and did not allow them to freely interact with the local population.

6. The Chinese have been surprised that despite the significant prosperity of the Tibetans as a result of the undoubted economic progress, there is a high level of discontent against the Government and support for the Dalai Lama. They attribute this to the failure of the local officials to realise the importance of “patriotic education” of the Tibetan youth. The importance of “patriotic re-education” was the running theme of the remarks made by Mr.Meng Jianzhu , the Minister for Public Security, during his interactions with local officials when he visited Lhasa on March 23 and 24,2008. His visit has been followed by the beginning of what appears to be a purge of local officials, who are seen as responsible for failing to anticipate the disturbances and prevent them. The “Tibet Daily” announced on March 30,2008, that Mr.Danzeng Langjie, Director of Tibet’s Ethnic Minority and Religious Affairs Commission, has been “removed” from his post and replaced by Mr. Luosang Jiumei, who was the Vice-Secretary of the Communist Party committee of Lhasa since 2004. Both are ethnic Tibetans.

7.The Chinese Foreign Office is also reported to be unhappy with the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for failing to closely monitor the activities of the Dalai Lama’s set-up and the TYC and forewarn the Government in Beijing of their plans to create incidents before the passage of the Olympic flame through Tibet. The purge may eventually affect the staff of the Embassy too.

(The writer, B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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