Additional force deployments, drills intimidate Tibetans during 19th party congress in Beijing

(Photo courtesy: REUTERS)
(Photo courtesy: REUTERS)

(, Oct20, 2017) – China’s anxiety to ensure a trouble-free 19th national party congress, a crucial five-yearly leadership reshuffle event held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, is being felt with brutal control measures in faraway Tibetan counties in Qinghai Province and elsewhere, including with deployments of additional paramilitary police in large numbers and intimidating drills, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Oct 18. Measure to ensure additional security in Tibetan regions under Chinese rule, including in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), during the party congress had been announced previously.

The report said that convoys of paramilitary People’s Armed Police Force arrived in Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) Prefecture on Oct 18, the opening day of the party congress in Beijing, and began conducting military drills in the streets of its towns.

The troops were also reported to have been posted at intersections of major roads in a show of strength and intimidation.

The report cite an anonymous local source as saying the above measures were being carried out in the prefecture’s Darlag (Dali), Chigdril (Jiuzhi), Pema (Banma), Gade (Gande), and Machen (Maqin) counties.

The source has added that last month Chinese authorities had warned the local Tibetan residents not to send photos or video clips of police activities to outside contacts. “They also advised local Tibetans not to discuss politics with outside contacts or to watch or listen to news about Tibet from broadcasters overseas,” or face severe consequences, the report quoted the source as saying.

The report further cited the source as saying Tibetans in neighbouring Gansu Province too were under tightened control measures that had rendered them too frightened to talk to anyone outside their own local areas.

Also, it was not officially announced but widely reported that neighbouring TAR was closed to non-Chinese foreign visitors from Oct 18 to 28. Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said Oct 17 that China had “dramatically tightened control in Tibet” in advance of the party congress in Beijing, with “massed ranks of troops and special forces gathered in Lhasa and other cities”.

Intimidating military drills were held at which soldiers swore allegiance to ‘protecting the 19th party congress’, the group said.

Lhasa residents reached by phone were stated to quickly hang up their phones, declining to speak.

The situation was reported to be similar in Tibet’s second city of Shigatse where a Chinese businessman was cited as speaking of increased presence of police patrol cars and public security officers moving about in military trucks.

It was earlier reported by China’s official Sep 28 that a conference with the theme of studying and arranging stability maintenance in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region was held on Sep 24. The conference was cited as saying the success of the 19th National Congress was the most significant political task currently.

China had earlier announced “stability maintenance” measures across the country, targeting anyone with a critical opinion of the ruling Chinese Communist Party or President Xi Jinping ahead of the party congress.


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