Cyber surveillance TIBET


Spy, Censor, Punish & Exile – Life in Sinicized Tibet

It has been proven that without the CCP, there would have been neither new China nor new Tibet. The CCP Central Committee’s guidelines and policies concerning Tibet work are completely correct.

– Chinese President Xi Jinping in July 2021 while visiting Galai village of Nyingchi

But what is the “New Tibet” that Xi Jinping seems so proud of ?

After the complete takeover of Tibet in 1959, the Chinese Communist Party has consistently aimed to tame Tibet – initially through mass transfer of Han Chinese to change the demography of the region, and later by dividing Tibet into Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and merging the rest with the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan. But what hurt Tibet most has been the CCP strategy of “维稳 or Weiwen or Stability Maintenance”.

Weiwen or Stability Maintenance was a preemptive strike that involved controlling “politically incorrect thoughts” using policies, institutions and technology. In Tibet, the CCP used weiwen to crush the identity and culture of Tibetans. Its chief weapon was not just the dystopian camps but the complete control of Tibetan minds, behavior and actions. They created policies to interfere in centuries-old sacred traditions of the Tibetan Buddhist system and unfortunately have been quiet successful too –

  • CCP forced the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama, into exile after a bloody crackdown in 1959.
  • They kidnapped the religious leader the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his entire family. His whereabouts are still not known!
  • They forced thousands of Buddhist monks, nuns and practitioners into “patriotic re-education camps” for “thought correction”.
  • They separated Tibetan children as young as 3-year old from their families and forced them into State-run “boarding schools”. Once in these “schools” they forced to sever ties with their religion and culture, and systematically replace their Tibetan identity with a Chinese one.
  • Suppressed Tibetan language and enforced Mandarin education.
  • Forced Tibetans to replace images of HH Dalai Lama with images of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders not only in their homes abut also in the monasteries.

This list goes on… But today the Chinese government has further advanced their oppressive policies by using sophisticated surveillance system which range from skilled human spies to highly advanced cameras and equipment – creating an perfect Orwellian State in Tibet that is run by propaganda, mass surveillance, disinformation, denial of truth and manipulation of the past.

First Orwellian Prototype of CCP – China’s Master Plan For Controlling Tibet

Grid-Style Social Management (社会网格化管理) – Since 2013 CCP government has implemented a self-policing human surveillance system called grid-style social management. In this grassroot method of surveillance, a region is subdivided into smaller zones (with not more than 15 -20 households in each zone). Each zone has sponsored/motivated local residents (grid workers) who report all activities (including information of their neighbors who they suspect are ‘splittist’ or ‘extremists’) to the local authorities on a regular basis in returns for rewards and benefits. These reports also include information on the population size, housing and facilities, social organizations, morale etc.

According to a recruitment advertisement on the Heshan City government website (Guangdong), these grid workers are “information collectors, policy propagandists, liaison [officers] for social situations and public opinion, conflict and dispute mediators”, among other things. In Tibet since 2012, CCP has deployed cadres as ‘grid managers’ in plainclothes in every village and monastery to act as an extension of government’s eyes.

Social Credit System (社会信用体系) – A technologically driven component of the grid surveillance system is the social credit system. The government has been using this system to enforce “desired behavior” among the citizen. Using tools such as public shaming, travel bans, limited or extended business opportunities, and credit ratings; CCP punishes all those it sees as “offenders”. And similarly the government motivates people to act as desired, by offering incentives like faster internet services, travel ticket booking convenience in flights and trains, and even concessions on advance deposits for renting cars and booking hotels.

There was no file, no police warrant, no official advance notification. They just cut me off from the things I was once entitled to. What’s really scary is there’s nothing you can do about it. You can report to no one. You are stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Liu Hu, Chinese journalist who was blacklisted under the Social Credit System

“Smart Construction Sites” Initiative – In September 2023, Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the TAR implemented a project called ‘Smart Construction Site’. This is a highly advanced supervision and surveillance platform which uses big data, machine control, and advanced technologies like AI, biometrics and phone spyware. The CCP government has also linked the traffic surveillance cameras and grid surveillance system with a repository of illegally collected data of ethnic minorities including DNA, voice samples, facial features, age estimation, dental records, residential addresses, electric meter number, prayer routines, daily schedules, social media presence and habits, video gaming habits, information on relatives and associates etc.

For Tibet, this project could become one of the most oppressive surveillance system till date.

China’s New Cybersecurity Law – In 2023 the Chinese government implemented the Cybersecurity law. The law in itself is vaguely worded and does not specify the type of violations that could lead an individual in trouble – but this has caused immense fear among Tibetans (and other minority groups) that the government authorities could use this to target anyone having cultural, social, or religious conversations or any other topic deemed troublesome for Xi Jinping government.

Also under this law, private companies are forced to store digital data within China and pass regular security reviews – which means that Chinese government will now have the authority to monitor and control all data in their cyberspace. Not only does this intrude a person’s rights to freedom of expression and opinion, but considering the brutal punishments enforced on dissenters this law compels individuals to self-censor and prevent meaningful conversation from taking place. In fact with this law in place, an informal and private conversation between 2 individuals could also result in harsh and unwarranted punishments from authorities. And as is the case the case with all policies of China, this law becomes more damning when applied to Tibetans and other ethic minorities.

Anyone who the Chinese authorities believe has harmed China’s national security or public interest can be punished under this law

– Dawa Tsering, Director of India-based Tibet Policy Institute

“The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.”

– George Orwell, 1984

It’s unfortunate that Orwell’s world has become a tragic reality for Tibet.

Living under the constant watch of an illegitimate government and being driven by manipulation, fake news, censorship and torture – China’s communist government has made Tibet an impregnable fortress where anguish and suppression of ethnic tribe reigns.

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