Tibet Awareness Talk Series: “A Boiling Pot: Impacts of the CCP’s Increasing Intrusive Surveillance in Tibet.” by Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim

Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim, Tibet Policy Institute (TPI)

Dharamsala: The monthly talk series of the Tibet Museum held on September 26, 2018, 3-4pm at the Tibet Museum, McLeodGanj, Dharamsala. This month Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim delivered his speech on the topic “A Boiling Pot: Impacts of the CCP’s Increasing Intrusive Surveillance in Tibet.” Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim who did PhD in Indo-China Relation (1963-2010) from the University of Madras and is currently working as a research fellow on the Tibet Policy Institute, Central Tibetan Administration.

The speaker put forth his speech with the quote, “Tibetans are betrayed by their hopefulness and Chinese are betrayed by their suspiciousness.” He focused mainly on two concepts, ‘Surveillance’ and ‘Preference Falsification.’ Surveillance is the process of monitoring, recording and processing people’s behaviour and related events in order to govern their activities. ‘Preference Falsification’ is the act of deliberately misrepresenting one’s genuine views and wants under perceived social or political pressure.

He discussed the struggle of Tibetans in Tibet both in the past and currently going through, emphasised on the constant deteriorating situations confirmed by numerous Human Rights group across the globe. He acclaimed that the intensity and the diversity of China’s surveillance system in Tibet had grown at an unprecedented rate. The circumstances like report from freedom house in 2018, Human Right report from 2018 and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights Democracy on 2017 report that discusses all the further liabilities are its justification.

He continued that in 2014, The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) had managed to gather and translated several comments made by the Chinese tourists who had visited Tibet. Extracting one comment by a micro bloggers from many, who shared the astonishment after witnessing the intensity of the surveillance commented, “I visited Jhokhang this morning just in time for the local ‘Shoten’ festival. Met some extremely devoted people. Inside the square, there were lots of weapons, people, armed police, Special armed police, snipers, and troops standing at the ready. It felt like the war was about to begin.”

The speaker’s further statement unravelled that Chinese Communist Party began to station ‘The Grid Unit Office’ in every region of Tibet from Oct 2011. In May 2013, the Chinese Communist Party implemented the network of local reporting system known as the ‘Advance Doubling Household System.’ He explained the cause of strict surveillance and discussed the topic on the Grid system implied by the Chinese Communist Party. He stated that according to him the main reason for it might be to nip the source of the protest to prevent it from spreading widely either it is small or big. The Grid Unit System was implemented to gather information and monitor Tibetans from the beginning. It was done forcefully in the name of state building, seizing civilian’s freedom of expression that had caused more resentment against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

With the help of Graph, he further illustrated the China’s Domestic Security Spending from 2017 to 2018. The report showed that the domestic security budget exceeded as they were concerned and had spent more on the internal security than that of the external defence.

He drew his research conclusion focusing the impact of the CCP’s Increasing Intrusive Surveillance in Tibet in three points. First, if militants imposed more surveillance in Tibet, more they faced the insecurity amongst themselves. Second, distrustful ambience was created amongst the family and neighbourhoods, where an individual can’t trust his family and neighbour under the suspicion of them being a Chinese spy or police informant. The forceful intrusion made the people to fear and forced to live a life of hypocrite who suppresses own feeling and speech to escape the punishment. The last third point describe the incursion and encroachment of privacy led to humiliation and deep-rooted resentment. In 2012, James Leibold leading scholar on ethnic policy in Tibet and China wrote commentary “ Can China have melting pot.” He winded up his speech by saying, according to him “if CCP continues its repressive rule in Tibet, China will not have a melting pot but rather it will have a boiling pot.

After the Speaker’s thorough narration, the program resumed with the question and answer round. The inquisitive audiences raised various questions that the speaker answered gloriously connecting it with the global history. The talk series was successful and will soon be back with another talk series with another topic relating to Tibet issues. The audience dispersed after the refreshment prepared by the host i.e. The Tibet Museum.

                                                                                                                                 ~Reported by Kunga Choedon