China seizes TVs, satellite equipment in Tibetan area

Reuters, BEIJING

Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - Page 6

Chinese authorities have confiscated 3,000 TVs from monasteries in a heavily Tibetan part of the west of the country and dismantled satellite equipment that broadcast “anti-China” programs, prompted by Tibetan self-immolations in the region.

About 94 Tibetans, including 81 this year, have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule. Five self-immolations occurred in Tibetan-dominated Huangnan Prefecture in Qinghai Province, the state-run Qinghai news agency said on Thursday.

The government in Huangnan said its approach in tackling self-immolations comprised of “guiding public opinion on the Dalai issue,” increasing patrols and “blocking outside harmful information,” according to the news agency, which is managed by the Qinghai government.

“At this critical moment for maintaining social stability in Huangnan Prefecture ... [we must] strengthen measures and fully fight the special battle against self-immolations,” the article said.

“We do not know anything about it,” an official from the prefecture government said by telephone, when asked to confirm the report, before hanging up.

Beijing considers Nobel Peace Prize laureate the Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking greater autonomy for his homeland.

The article said the prefecture’s agricultural and pastoral areas had relied on certain satellite equipment “to watch and listen to overseas, anti-China programs.”

The local government would invest 8.64 million yuan (US$1.38 million) to install 50 transmitters that would broadcast 70 percent of the prefecture’s TV channels, the report said.

China has repeatedly denounced the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibetan groups for fomenting the self-immolations.