(TibetanReview.net, Aug09’19) – Despite having a pervasive online censorship network in place, which has seen so many people arrested and jailed, Chinese authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) still rely on public informants to punish those whose online activities it disapproves of. Cash prizes of up to 300,000 yuan (USD 44,000) have been announced for those reporting “illegal” online contents as part of the government’s “social supervision strategy to mobilise the general public to effectively prevent and combat illegal and criminal online contents,” said Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Aug 5.
The centre said the Feb 28 notice bans the use of network communication tools ‘to collect, produce, download, store, publish, disseminate, and publicize malicious attacks against the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government, the socialist system, the regional ethnic autonomy system, and the party and the government’s policy of managing TAR.” It further bans the “fabrication or deliberate dissemination of information that damages the image of the country, seriously jeopardises the interests of the country, and distorts the history of the party, the nation and the army.”
The notice is also said to criminalize information directed at “subverting state power, overthrowing the socialist system, and splitting the country.”
The notice bans the use of online banking and payment methods, including electronic cheques and credit cards as well as Alipay and WeChat, to send donations to organizations and personnel related to “ethnic separatist forces, religious extremist forces, violent terrorist forces”.
The blanket ban also extends to “illegal sharing of information about the country’s political, economic, social, military, cultural, religious and other state secrets or intelligence information with overseas organisations, institutions and individuals.”
The latest notice issued by the TAR Internet Information Office, TAR Public Security Department and TAR Communications Administration trebled the maximum amount of reward for information on “illegal” online contents. The previous notice, issued in 2018 by the TAR Public Security Bureau, offered rewards of up to 100,000 yuan (USD 15,600).
The Feb 28 notice continues to criminalize online activities “challenging China’s territorial claims over Tibet”, “Participating in separatist activities”, Calling for the ‘middle way’”, “Advocacy of mother tongue”, “Using religion to interfere in grassroots-level administrative affairs or education”.