Even as Chinese security personnel were shooting unarmed Tibetan protesters in eastern Tibet on January 23, Chinese authorities in central Tibet were distributing Chinese flags and photos of China’s leaders to local Tibetans.
Coinciding with the Chinese new year, official Xinhua news agency had reported that over a million Chinese national flags and portraits depicting the four generations of China’s top leadership were distributed to monasteries, schools, offices, and rural households.
The distribution of the flags and portraits carry strong political connotations, as households and temples deciding against its display run the risk of offending local communist party workers and leaders.
This was made evident when Padma Choling, Beijing appointed chairman of the regional government said that the hanging of the portrait was meant to express the “heartfelt gratitude of Tibetans for the PRC central government and the Communist Party of China”.
Phayul had reported last year that China was planning to send 20,000 Chinese officials to Tibetan villages in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region to “re-sculpture the minds of Tibetans”.
These Chinese officials will stay one year in the Tibetan villages to “espouse patriotism and love for China” while handing out Chinese national flags and photos of Chinese leaders in large quantities in all Tibetan villages.
This move of penetrating Tibetan villages along with the “Nine Must-Haves” policy introduced in December last, which requires nine items, including portraits of Communist leaders, the Communist flag and a copy of the state-run People’s Daily to be displayed in all temples are amongst the many policies being employed by the newly appointed Chinese party boss in Tibet, Chen Quanguo.
Following the fiery wave of self-immolation that has seen 16 Tibetans set themselves on fire since March 2011, at least a dozen Tibetans are feared to have been killed in Chinese police firings in three separate incidents in Serthar, Ngaba and Drongo region of Tibet, this week alone.