China threatens web clampdown to thwart Tibetan protests

China has threatened to clamp down on internet and mobile phone access in Tibet to thwart protests ahead of a politically sensitive meeting.

The leading Chinese official in Tibet was quoted in Tibetan national press claiming that maintaining stability in the region is now a priority.  Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party boss in Tibet, claimed that “unstable elements” must be “nipped in the bud”, ahead of a Chinese National People’s Congress which begins on Monday.

According to Chen, “stability means everything” in the region, and “new media” such a “mobiles, internet and other measures” are being clamped down on to stop news of unrest spreading from the region.

This follows growing numbers of self-immolation incidents by Tibetans protesting the Chinese occupation, and authorities are clearly worried about more unrest.  Last year there were 22 reports of Tibetans setting fire to themselves in protest at Chinese presence.

According to AFP, there are fears from the Chinese authorities that access to internet connections could incite further protests reacting to China’s occupation of the country.

Similar tactics have been recently used in Iran to hamper the organisation of protests by citizens.  This has led to Iranian authorities downing internet access to stop people getting through to popular email services which are available on virtual private networks.