China says Tibet officials must be a fortress against separatism

Members of the Tibetan Youth Congress living in exile shout slogans next to the United Nations Office in New Delhi on Sept 28, 2015.
Members of the Tibetan Youth Congress living in exile shout slogans next to the United Nations Office in New Delhi on Sept 28, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters) - Officials working at the grassroots in Tibet must be a "fortress" against separatism and work to ensure the ruling Communist Party's monopoly on information is maintained, China's top official in the restless region wrote on Thursday (Oct 22).

China this year is marking 50 years since the founding of what it calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. Beijing says it "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1950 and that its rule has brought prosperity and equality to a once-backward region.

However, rights groups and exiles say China governs with an iron fist and represses Tibet's Buddhist people, which leads to periodic outbreaks of violence and anti-Chinese protests.

Tibet party boss Chen Quanguo, writing in the official People's Daily, said there was "nothing more harmful than chaos", and China's stability as a whole rests on the stability and security of Tibet.

A central element of this was to train and promote a core of high-calibre, loyal Tibet and Han Chinese officials who will be based in every county and village across the region, Chen said. "Build up grassroots party organisations which serve the masses and promote development and are a staunch combat fortress to maintain stability and oppose separatism," Mr Chen wrote.

The "ideological security" of Tibet needs the party to control public opinion, the media and the Internet, and every house in every village must be able to watch the television or listen to the radio, he said.

"Work hard to build the same spiritual home for all ethnic groups, focus on building a strong positive force for a united, beautiful, harmonious and happy socialist Tibet," Mr Chen said.

China blames exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for unrest in Tibetan parts of the country, including a wave of self-immolations. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama denies Chinese charges he wants Tibetan independence or that he promotes violence, saying only that he wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.

Unusually, Chen made no direct mention of the Dalai Lama, saying only that the "struggle against separatism has been noticeably stepped up".