China holds ‘wall of steel’ military drill in Lhasa ahead of 59th Tibet uprising anniversary

These clips from Chinese state media television show military drills in Lhasa on March 2, 2018. (Photo courtesy: ICT)
These clips from Chinese state media television show military drills in Lhasa on March 2, 2018. (Photo courtesy: ICT)

(, Mar09, 2018) – In the run up to the 59th anniversary on Mar 10 of the Tibetan National Uprising, China held a ‘wall of steel’ military drill in Tibet’s capital Lhasa on Mar 2. It was meant to intimidate and deter Tibetans from any thought about protesting on that day.

The joint military drill on Mar 2 consisted of a mass show of force of ‘combat-ready’ troops from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP), underlining the heavy militarization of Tibet and the political importance at the highest-levels in China of Tibet’s ‘stability’, said Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet Mar 5.

The group noted that in its extreme nature, this massive show of force – which had become an almost annual ritual at this time of year – was also an indicator of CCP’s anxieties over its authority in Tibet.

The group said the military drills coincided with a mass presence of troops at prayer festivals in monasteries in eastern Tibet, giving the impression of a war zone. Nevertheless, the heavy show of force did not deter thousands of Tibetan pilgrims from visiting monasteries and religious sites to offer prayers.

The group cited Chinese state media as reporting the drills were held in order to demonstrate the resolve of the authorities to ensure ‘social stability’. This, it said, was China’s political language for the crushing of any dissent and ensuring allegiance to the CCP authorities in order for the authorities to pursue their strategic and economic objectives on the plateau without impediment.

It added that intensive militarisation was backed by systematic grassroots propaganda work by thousands of Party cadres working in towns and remote rural areas across the plateau, and comprehensive surveillance.

The group noted that Chinese Party officials connect political ‘stability’ in Tibet with the security of the entire PRC, with President Xi Jinping having emphasized: “To rule the country, it is imperative to rule the frontiers; to rule the frontiers, stabilizing Tibet must be done first”.


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