TibetWatch for February 6th

First, FT on the difficulties Beijing faces when it tries to cover the entire Tibetan plateau:

Following an outbreak of unrest in China’s south-west, the ruling Communist party has been at pains to show that it is taking no chances.

The party secretary in Tibet has called on security forces to step up surveillance measures, while authorities in neighbouring Xinjiang said last week they would hire 8,000 more police officers for the restive north-western territory.

But difficulties with security are by no means limited to China’s restive western fringes, or the current sensitive period. The latest steps expose much broader problems that have left the authorities struggling to properly police the country.

Despite a steep ramp-up in spending on internal security, riot control forces remain stretched thin, and structural problems continue to plague the security apparatus.

“Official rates of crime and social unrest have risen much faster than the size of the public security forces over the past three decades,” says Murray Scot Tanner, a China analyst at CNA, a research company in Virginia.

Tibet and Xinjiang are believed to have strong deployments of People’s Armed Police, a highly mobile force directly under central government orders, which is in charge of riot control and border protection.

The 700,000-strong PAP force is deployed all over the country but is stretched thin over the huge territories of Tibet and Xinjiang.

“The number of hotspots [in the recent Tibetan protests in Sichuan province] are increasing, and some of them are unexpected,” says Robert Barnett, director of the modern Tibet studies program at Columbia University.

Next, an AP writer describes threats Beijing is making towards officials in Tibet:

China on Monday warned government officials in Tibet that failing to maintain stability could result in job loss or criminal prosecution, the latest sign of heightened ethnic tensions in the remote Himalayan region.

Monday’s announcement on the official website of the Tibetan regional government said two cases of dereliction of duty had recently been reported and that such cases were to be handled harshly. It said authorities who mishandle emergency situations could lose their jobs or face criminal charges.

The announcement said “those responsible for problems in stability maintenance because they neglect their posts, act irresponsibly, abuse power or fail to carry out their duties … will all be removed from their positions on the spot no matter who they are or what level they are at.”

Finally, from Times of India we hear that the Karmapa, usually extremely reluctant to get overtly involved with politics, has weighed in once more on the latest troubles:

In a statement issued here, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, clarifies that having been given the name Karmapa, he belongs to a 900-year-old reincarnation lineage that has historically avoided any political engagement, a tradition he has no intention to change. However, the statement further states, “As a Tibetan, I have great sympathy and affection for the Tibetan people and I have great misgivings about remaining silent while they are in pain. Their welfare is my greatest concern.”

“I call on the authorities in Beijing to see past the veneer of wellbeing that local officials present. Acknowledging the real human distress of Tibetans in Tibet and taking full responsibility for what is happening there would lay a wise basis for building mutual trust between Tibetans and the Chinese government. Rather than treating this as an issue of political opposition, it would be far more effective for Chinese authorities to treat this as a matter of basic human welfare,” the Karmapa said n his statement.

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Filed under ethnic conflict, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

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