China extends ban on foreigners in Tibet as uprising feted

Communist Party also bars diplomats in restive province, highlighting lack of support for its rule
China extends ban on foreigners in Tibet as uprising feted

Tibetan flags are displayed as people gather to protest in front of the Consulate General of China in Los Angeles on March 10 to mark the 60th Global Tibetan National Uprising Commemorations. The national flag of Tibet, used by the Tibetan Government in Exile, which is based in Dharamshala, India, was adopted by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1916 but has been banned in China by the Chinese government since 1959. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

Sang Jieja
China
March 19, 2019
March is a sensitive time for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as Tibetans commemorate a peaceful uprising in Lhasa against the tyranny of Chinese rule decades ago that sent the Dalai Lama into exile.

The revolt on March 10, 1959, was bloodily suppressed by Beijing, resulting in tens of thousands of Tibetans fleeing to nearby countries like India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Since then, the CCP has exercised totalitarian control over Tibet, leading to sporadic protests.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) declared March 10 the statutory anniversary of the uprising. This year marks its 60th anniversary.

Exiled Tibetans and organizations supporting Tibet held commemorative events and demanded the CCP free Tibet from its de facto colonial grip.

Sign up to receive UCAN Daily Full Bulletin
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
The party responded by raising its alert level, stepping up its monitoring of Tibetans and mobilizing its immense social-control network. This includes the cadres stationed at all villages and temples, and armed and plainclothes police. Foreigners are also barred from entering Tibet around this sensitive date.

Local media reported that the Tibet Tourism Bureau issued a circular to the industry at the end of 2018 warning that no foreign tourists would be allowed to apply for a permit to enter the Himalayan region from Jan. 30 to April 1.

Tour operators reminded travelers to postpone their plans and stressed that it has become a normal practice to seal Tibet off from prying foreign eyes every spring since 2008, when China hosted the Summer Olympics.

This year, the period was extended by two weeks, with foreign diplomats also added to the temporary blacklist and banned from entering.

Wu Yingjie, the top official in Tibet, defended this "normal annual closure period" on March 6.

"Considering the special geographical and climatic conditions of Tibet, we have adopted a series of regulations for foreigners entering Tibet," said Wu, secretary of the Communist Party of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Dare I ask, what kind of country restricts foreigners from traveling within its territory due to climatic or geographical concerns?

The Chinese government's statement is far-fetched, to say the least.

The real reason foreigners are persona non grata at this time of year is because the CCP's tyrannical rule in Tibet is so heinous that it must remain hidden.

If you were to look back in history, you would see troops and armed police stationed in the streets, at government departments, and at temples and monasteries in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa as well as in the neighboring provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan — especially at Rongwo Monastery in Qinghai.

Plainclothes officers and policemen could be seen everywhere, many of whom carried both firearms and fire extinguishers. They patrolled day and night.

Military police would also break into hotels, tea houses and restaurants, searching everyone and demanding to see their identification papers. They would also question Tibetans suspected of possessing "suspicious objects".

Even external communications, including telephones and the internet, were shut off in the past, in case anyone thought of contacting the outside world.

People lamented how the CCP had established "zero-distance" monitoring in Lhasa, with a policeman stationed every 15 meters. This compares to one every 500m in 2018.

The security forces had set up a strong system of control, with police stationed so that any "incidents" could be tackled within three minutes of erupting.

Some netizens responded to this with teasing comments like, "If you can't see a police officer, or a surveillance camera above your head, then you must have gone to the wrong place because you can't be in Lhasa."

Under such severe monitoring, the CCP obviously does not want foreign visitors to see how Tibet has effectively become an open-air prison, with local people suppressed from their own religion and culture.

Even if the party, which is renowned for recasting the truth to support its own agenda, dared to admit foreigners, do you not think it would arrange for people who are loyal to the government to whitewash what it was doing? 

Would foreigners really get to see the truth? Would the true voice of Tibetans be heard?

The CCP has governed Tibet for 60 years with totalitarian control. It is still suppressing Tibetans, showing how its rule has never won popular or widespread support from local people.

Sang Jieja is a Tibetan writer, commentator and a former Chinese spokesman for the exiled Tibetan government. He is now studying in Spain.

© Copyright 2019, UCANews.com All rights reserved
© Copyright 2019, Union of Catholic Asian News Limited. All rights reserved
Expect for any fair dealing permitted under the Hong Kong Copyright Ordinance.
No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without prior permission.