China Sets Up Camp in Tibet's Shigatse to Train Party Workers in 'Correct Thought': Report

2019-02-14
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Tibetan villagers in Chamdo sing 'patriotic' songs in a screen grab from a March 29, 2018 video.
Tibetan villagers in Chamdo sing 'patriotic' songs in a screen grab from a March 29, 2018 video.
Video provided by an RFA listener

In a bid to promote and strengthen political conformity, China has opened a new training camp in Tibet’s Shigatse prefecture for Party workers tasked with enforcing Tibetans’ support of Communist Party rule from Beijing, a Washington-based Tibetan advocacy group said on Thursday in a new report.

The camp, run under paramilitary supervision, will help shape the thinking of thousands of cadres now regularly sent across Tibet to monitor and manage the views of Tibetans in monasteries, schools, and private homes, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) says.

Citing reports in Chinese state media, ICT said that training in the camp includes flag-raising ceremonies and the singing of patriotic songs, along with an emphasis on “self-criticism” and the need to “correct people’s thinking.”

“The training does not only target individuals’ political beliefs and the need for compliance to Party policy, but also their personal lives,” with strict supervision in the camp possibly indicating suspicion of the loyalty of the cadres themselves, the rights group said.

“The new institute for training Party cadres on a paramilitary basis in Shigatse appears to be consistent with this acknowledgement at the highest levels of the Party that it has not fully secured the allegiance of officials or the broader Tibetan public,” ICT said.

Chinese doubts over the political reliability of the Tibetan public have already cast a shadow over celebrations this year of Losar, the Lunar New Year, with police filling the streets of the regional capital Lhasa and government workers forbidden to visit monasteries, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

This year’s Losar was preceded by public speeches by Chinese officials urging Tibetans’ loyalty to Beijing and denouncing Tibetan government workers caught “harboring religious faith and worshipping in secret,” one Lhasa resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

A matter of particular concern to Beijing is the persistence of Tibetans’ loyalty to exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is regarded by Chinese leaders as a dangerous separatist intent on splitting Tibet away from Chinese rule.

“If any [Party] member has the wrong attitude on this subject, it would be a serious problem,” an unnamed regional commission for discipline inspection official says in a Feb. 1 Global Times report cited by ICT.

A Feb. 12 tweet by Col. Vinayak Bhat, a retired Indian intelligence officer and satellite imagery analyst, meanwhile points to what Bhat calls new prison camps and “high-security monasteries” being built in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas of China.

Images included in the tweet show facilities in what appear to be early or nearly completed stages of construction, with some compounds surrounded by double fencing, though no dates or specific locations are given for the images shown.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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