Authorities in Tibetan areas required professors and students at institutions of higher education to attend political education sessions in an effort to prevent “separatist” political and religious activities on campus. Ethnic Tibetan academics were frequently encouraged to participate in government propaganda efforts, such as by making public speeches supporting government policies or accepting interviews by official media. Academics who failed to cooperate with such efforts faced diminished prospects for promotion. Academics in the PRC who publicly criticized CCP policies on Tibetan affairs faced official reprisal. The government controlled curricula, texts, and other course materials as well as the publication of historically or politically sensitive academic books. Authorities frequently denied permission to Tibetan academics to travel overseas for conferences and academic or cultural exchanges.
In a January speech, the director of the TAR Academy of Social Sciences called on the academy to serve as the TAR Party Committee’s think tank and as a strong ideological force for fighting separatism and exposing the “Dalai clique.” At a January 16 meeting in Lhasa chaired by then TAR Party Secretary Zhang Qingli to discuss propaganda priorities for the year, TAR Party and government leaders were urged to continue to criticize the “Dalai clique,” investigate and prevent the influx of toxic cultural influences, and promote such themes as “communism, socialism, and the People’s Liberation Army are good” and “love the Party and the motherland.”
In an opinion piece published in official media in January, the director of the TAR State Security Bureau called for the development of Tibet’s tourism and cultural industries to combat the weakening of national identity and other “negative” effects of placing “too much emphasis on the promotion of Buddhist religious faith.”
Policies promoting planned urban economic growth, rapid infrastructure development, the influx of non-Tibetans to traditionally Tibetan areas, the expansion of the tourism industry, the forced resettlement of nomads and farmers, and the weakening of Tibetan-language education at the middle and high school levels continued to disrupt traditional living patterns and customs.
From December 2010 to February 2011, authorities in Lhasa launched another in a series of annual winter “Strike Hard” campaigns. According to official reports, in the early days of the campaign, approximately 575 police raided more than 1,262 guest houses, Internet cafes, entertainment centers, and bars, while 300 police raided Lhasa schools. Although ostensibly an anti-crime operation, police searched private homes, guest houses, hotels, bars, and Internet cafes for photographs of the Dalai Lama and other politically forbidden items. Police examined the cell phones of Lhasa residents to search for “reactionary music” from India and photographs of the Dalai Lama. Reportedly, even certain ringtones were deemed subversive and could lead to detention.
On March 28, the TAR marked its third annual observance of “Serf Emancipation Day,” commemorating the day in 1959 that China’s rulers formally dissolved the Kashag, the Tibetan local government. During the official celebration, government officials and representatives from rural villages and monasteries were required to denounce the Dalai Lama.
Some observers expressed concern that development projects and other central government policies disproportionately benefited non-Tibetans and resulted in a considerable influx of ethnic Han and Hui people into the TAR. Infrastructure upgrades such as improved roads, more frequent air service, and the TAR-Qinghai railway, which made travel more affordable, increased the frequency with which non-Tibetans from other parts of the PRC visited the TAR. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, in 2006 there were 180,000 ethnic Han with household registration in the TAR. According to an official TAR report, by 2011 this number had increased to 245,000. Many people from outside the TAR who had spent years living in the TAR maintained their official registration in another province and thus were not counted as TAR residents.
Even in areas officially designated as “autonomous,” Tibetans generally lacked the right to play a meaningful role in the protection of their cultural heritage and unique natural environment and faced arrest and intimidation if they protested against mining or other industrial activities that they felt were harmful to the environment or sacred sites. In November 2010, 15 Tibetans, including five monks from nearby Lingka Monastery, were detained, and several others injured when armed riot police and PSB officials were dispatched to suppress hundreds of Tibetans who attempted to disrupt operations at the controversial Xietongmen (Shethongmon) copper-mining project near Rikaze (Shigatse), TAR. The detained monks, Khenpo Kelsang, Jamyang Tsering, Tsewang Dorje, Rigzin Pema, and Jamyang Rigsang, reportedly were taken to detention centers in Xietongmen (Shethongmon) and Rikaze (Shigatse).
Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese are official languages in the TAR, and both languages appeared on some, but not all, public and commercial signs. Inside official buildings and businesses, including banks, post offices, and hospitals, signage in Tibetan was frequently lacking, and in many instances, forms and documents were available only in Mandarin. Mandarin was widely spoken and was used for most official communications. In many rural and nomadic areas, children received only one to three years of Tibetan-language education before continuing their education in a Mandarin-language school. According to official figures, the illiteracy rate among youth and working-age adults fell from 30.9 percent in 2003 to 1.2 percent in 2011. Many observers questioned that figure, and some contended that the actual illiteracy rate among Tibetan youth and working-age adults was between 40 and 50 percent.
The Tibetan-language curriculum for primary and middle schools in Tibetan areas was predominantly translated directly from the standard national Mandarin-language curriculum, offering Tibetan students very little insight into their own culture and history. Few elementary schools in Tibetan areas used Tibetan as the primary language of instruction. In Kangding (Dardo), Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, elementary schools did not offer instruction in Tibetan. Despite guarantees of cultural and linguistic rights, in middle and high schools--even some officially designated as Tibetan-language schools--Tibetan was usually used only to teach classes on Tibetan language, literature, and culture, and all other classes were taught in Mandarin. Of more than 15 middle and high schools in Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP, Sichuan Province, only three schools taught primarily in Tibetan. Early in the year, the TAR government launched an effort to strengthen free compulsory bilingual preschool education in rural areas by establishing 217 bilingual kindergartens in the region. Qinghai Province and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP and Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP in Sichuan Province announced similar programs during the year.
Proficiency in Mandarin was essential to qualify for higher education in the PRC. China’s most prestigious universities provided no instruction in Tibetan or other ethnic minority languages. “Nationalities” universities, established to serve ethnic minority students and ethnic Han students interested in ethnic minority subjects, only offered Tibetan-language instruction in courses focused on the study of the Tibetan language or culture and were widely considered to offer a lower quality education overall. Since Tibetan-language instruction was not offered in other higher-education subjects, there was a dearth of technically trained and qualified ethnic Tibetans, and jobs in Tibetan areas that required technical skills and qualifications were typically filled by migrants from other areas of China. Tibetan Buddhist monks, in some cases the leading scholars on Tibetan studies, were barred from teaching at universities due to their religious office and lack of academic credentials recognized by the Ministry of Education.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt.