New Security Measures as Tibet Anniversary Approaches
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising and the exile of the Dalai Lama, China has increased security on the border with South Asian countries. From Xinhua:
“We have made due deployment and tightened controls at border ports, and key areas and passages along the border in Tibet,” Fu Hongyu, Political Commissar of the Ministry of Public Security Border Control Department.
“We will firmly crackdown on criminal activities in Tibet’s border area that pose a threat to China’s sovereignty and government,” said Fu, a deputy to the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislative body.
“We will go all out to maintain the security and stability of border and coastal areas,” said Fu, on the sidelines of the NPC session.
Following widespread reporting in the foreign media about an escalation in the number of security forces in Tibet and neighboring areas, local officials have acknowledged security fears. From China Daily:
A senior Tibetan official said yesterday that intensified police patrols in parts of Tibet were temporary security measures against possible disruptions by the Dalai Lama’s followers and Western “Tibet independence” groups.
Legqog, chairman of the standing committee of the Tibet autonomous region’s people’s congress, said most of the region is stable. But because the Dalai group has not stopped trying to create chaos in Tibet since the March 14 violence last year, armed police have stepped up their presence, he added.
The Times Online also reports on the new security situation:
The rounding up of 109 monks from Lutsang monastery in Qinghai province, western China, is one of a series of extraordinary security measures being implemented to prevent restive Tibetans from commemorating the anniversary with protests against Chinese rule.
About a quarter of China’s territory, an area the size of Western Europe, has been closed off to foreigners. Thousands of troops and paramilitary police have been deployed in Tibetan-populated regions amid fears of a renewed outburst of the anti-Chinese violence that rocked the region a year ago. Winding mountain roads have been clogged for days with convoys of armoured military trucks and coaches bringing in reinforcements.
Meanwhile, AFP reports from Dharamsala that, “Tibetans face 50th uprising anniversary with dismay,” while, unsurprisingly, the China Daily has a very different take in their article, “Slaves rejoice in a hard-won fight for freedom.”
The BBC reports on comments made by Chinese President Hu Jintao on the eve of the anniversary:
China’s President Hu Jintao has spoken of the need for a “Great Wall against separatism”, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s failed uprising.
He told Tibetan leaders in Beijing that China’s “unity” needed to be protected and Tibet’s long-term security secured.
The Tibet anniversary isn’t the only reason officials are concerned this year. The New York Times reports on the unusual number of sensitive commemorations that will take place in 2009:
This year commemorates not only the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan revolt. June brings the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, protests that remain the most visible challenge to Communist rule. April is the 10th anniversary of major protests by the Falun Gong religious sect, which led to thousands of arrests and, in July of that year, a government ban on the group.
May heralds the 90th anniversary of the May 4 movement, a 1919 student-led protest against imperial rule that is both a touchstone of Chinese nationalism and historic proof that people can challenge their rulers.
Finally, Oct. 1 is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Republic of China. The government plans a major celebration and will be on the lookout for anyone who seeks to spoil it.
Read more about the current situation in Tibetan areas, via CDT.