Authorities in a Tibetan-populated county in western China’s Sichuan province are tightening controls on motor vehicles following the crash earlier this week of an SUV in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in an apparent terrorist attack, Tibetan sources say.
China blamed Monday’s incident, in which a vehicle broke through traffic barriers and was set on fire below a large portrait of former leader Mao Zedong, on ethnic Uyghur separatists fighting for the independence of their resource-rich homeland in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region.
Five were killed and 40 injured in the attack, according to Chinese police.
Now, officials in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) county are urging “vigilance” in defending against similar attacks by Tibetans challenging Chinese rule in their own region, a Tibetan resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“After the crash of the SUV at Tiananmen Square, Kardze county officials went to villages in the county and called meetings with village leaders, cautioning them about the importance of proper driving licenses,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Village leaders were directed to submit lists of all vehicles and their drivers in their respective villages,” he said, adding that meeting participants were told the orders came from prefecture and province-level authorities.
Officials described Monday’s crash at Tiananmen Square as a “politically motivated incident” and called on village leaders to be alert to plots to carry out similar actions in Kardze, the source said.
Village leaders were also told that checkpoints would soon be set up to stop and examine vehicles and their drivers, and were ordered not to share this information with the public.
“At the same time, they were warned that anyone found giving ‘information about China’ to outside sources will be dealt with according to law and regulations,” he said.
“Those who carry mobile phones should be responsible for their proper use,” officials told the village leaders, RFA’s source said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 122 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Sichuan’s Kardze county has been the scene of repeated protests, both by individuals and by small groups, despite the threat of detention and violent assaults against protesters by Chinese police.
Reported by Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.