Happy birthday, Dalai Lama: China celebrates by cutting comms in Tibetan region

It was the Dalai Lama’s birthday last week; he turned 77. China celebrated in its own unique way by severing public communication services, with both text messaging and internet access disabled for two days in Ganzi prefecture, a Tibetan autonomous region in western Sichuan province. Phone calls, however, could still be made.

There was no announcement, no explanation. One minute you could surf the internet, text your friend; the next, messages were blocked and the web was down. (more…)

China: earthquakes unearths tensions

According to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun the Chinese Central Propaganda Department has issued guidelines on reporting of the Qinghai earthquake disaster. All internal news items circulated within mainland China are to be approved by state officials before publishing, and can only focus on positive aspects of the relief effort.

Western media has already been more critical, focussing on aspects such as the unrecognised efforts of the 200 Tibetan monks who were banned from accessing certain areas of the city, instead concentrating on helping the rural population whose houses suffered the most damage. Other aspects that have hampered the rescue operation include delays in the arrival of aid packages and the altitude sickness experienced by many workers not native to the area. In a similar twist to the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, people have again been questioning why only government buildings have remained standing, whilst schools and homes have suffered the most destruction. Chinese news channels have been banned from reporting on these aspects of the disaster.