China’s Top Official in Tibet Orders New Media Clampdown

China’s top leader in Tibet is urging local authorities to clamp down on Internet and mobile phone use in the region, as Beijing prepares to open its annual National People’s Congress and Tibetans honor those who have died protesting Chinese rule.

The state-run Tibet Daily quotes regional Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo as saying that maintaining stability in the Himalayan region “means everything. Unstable elements must be nipped in the bud and all work at maintaining stability must be deepened.”

He also said security forces “must crush hostile forces” led by the Dalai Lama — the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who is widely revered outside China, while accused by Beijing of fomenting rebellion in Tibetan regions.

China has flooded Tibetan areas with thousands of troops and police in recent weeks, in a push to prevent Tibetan activists from setting themselves on fire to protest Chinese presence in their territories.

The latest crackdown call — just days ahead of the anniversary of deadly unrest in 2011 and 2008 — has reached all the way to Beijing. There, outspoken Tibetan writer-poet Tsering Woeser said Wednesday that security police prevented her from receiving a cultural award from the Dutch ambassador.

China’s showcase annual legislative session begins next week, and authorities in past years have sought to portray national unity by squelching any and all signs of public dissent in the capital.

For Tibetans, March 17 marks the first anniversary of a widely-reported self-immolation by a young monk whose death triggered the current crackdown.

March 17 is also the fourth anniversary of a larger and deadly Chinese crackdown in Tibetan areas, and the 53rd anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s escape to northern India, after a failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.

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