China blocks popular Tibetan-language blog

Luktsang Palyon, or Tibetan Sheep, is the latest online platform to succumb to Beijing’s crackdown.
By Pelbar for RFA Tibetan
2024.04.08
China blocks popular Tibetan-language blog A young Tibetan monk looks at his mobile phone outside the Nanwu temple in Kangding, west of Sichuan province, China, April 2, 2008.
Andy Wong/AP

The Chinese government has shut down a popular Tibetan-language blog, angering residents of Tibet and members of the Tibetan exile community who rely on it for access to Tibetan content. 

In a statement issued on April 2, the administrator of Luktsang Palyon, or “Tibet Sheep” in English, said the website and its related WeChat blog had been blocked by authorities for alleged copyright infringement and that he has filed a formal appeal for authorities to restore it.

“The government has completely blocked access to Luktsang Palyon,” said the administrator, who did not want to be named for safety reasons. 

Over the past few years, Chinese authorities have ramped up efforts to restrict the use of the Tibetan language, with clampdowns on related blogs, schools, websites, social media platforms, and apps, as Beijing pushes ahead with assimilation policies in Tibet. 

Collage of logos of the popular online Tibetan-language blog Luktsang Palyon and a screenshot of its April 2, 2024, statement announcing its closure by Chinese authorities and its subsequent appeal for restoration of the blog. (Citizen journalist)
Collage of logos of the popular online Tibetan-language blog Luktsang Palyon and a screenshot of its April 2, 2024, statement announcing its closure by Chinese authorities and its subsequent appeal for restoration of the blog. (Citizen journalist)

Even though the administrator has formally requested that authorities reverse the order, there’s little hope that the situation will change, said a person inside Tibet who is familiar with the matter and who also declined to be named.

If restored, Luktsang Palyon will ensure the rights of writers are upheld, but if the request is declined, it will “fully comply with the decision of the government,” the administrator said in a statement. 

The platform also emphasized the importance of copyright protection and the authenticity of the content published on its blog.

Established in March 2013, Luktsang Palyon has focused on topics related to Tibetan language and culture, and has built up a loyal community of readers as a source for writings by Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet. 

It has published about 10,000 pieces of educational content, Tibetan articles and stories, music lyrics, Tibetan-Chinese translations and audio content.

The Tibetan-language platform Luktsang Palyon served as a vital hub for content from Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. (Citizen journalist)
The Tibetan-language platform Luktsang Palyon served as a vital hub for content from Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. (Citizen journalist)

“Shutting down this platform is a matter of significant loss and concern for the Tibetan scholarly community as it has been a constant source to access content,” said Beri Jigme Wangyal, a literature professor and author at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India.

Authorities have blocked other Tibetan-language online platforms in recent years.

In 2022, the China-based language learning app Talkmate and video-streaming service Bilibili  removed the Tibetan and Uyghur languages from their sites following a directive issued by Chinese authorities. 

Later that same year, the creators of a popular Tibetan-language short video-sharing app called GangYang shut it down, citing financial reasons.

Rights groups, however, said the move was likely prompted by a Chinese government order to close the app as authorities ratcheted up efforts to restrict Tibetans from using their own language. 

Translated by Tenzin Palmo for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Tenzin Pema for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Joshua Lipes.

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