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Beijing Dirty Olympic game for world. Photo: TPIDharamshala: Mr. Tsering Wangchuk is a former reporter and presenter for the Radio Broadcast of Lhasa based in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). In this interview we will be discussing his work in radio from 1988 to 1993 and about the Lhasa Radio Broadcast in Tibet.

Mr. Wangchuk expressed his concerns over the difficulties he faced presenting accurate news coverage under the Chinese authorities. He also revealed to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that the Chinese authorities have always attempted to jam and block all the foreign broadcasts into China, particularly in Lhasa, (the capital of Tibet) and other main Tibetan cities which they determine to be “unfriendly”.

Mr. Wangchuk emotionally recounted the difficulties he experienced working under the Chinese controlled media and also expressed his hope in the unbiased and alternative news services focusing on Tibetan and Chinese issues that are labeled by the Chinese authorities as their “Most Powerful Enemies.” One of the most pressing issues for Tibetan media, says Mr. Wangchuk, is the restriction on broadcast services in Tibet since 1993 which prevented him from providing the real story and situation of Tibet and Tibetan people under the occupation.

In 1994, He became first Tibetan journalist refugee in India and joined the Tibetan government in exile as a reporter for Tibetan Freedom, the only official weekly newspaper published by Department of Information and International Relationship (DIIR), and now he is the additional secretary of Kashag (The executive cabinet). As a former Tibetan journalist, he also criticizes the French government that is allowing a French company to help in China’s jamming and blocking of foreign broadcasts.

"The French company Thales has been the main foreign company providing equipment, technology and engineers assisting the Chinese authorities’ quest to silence and every time maintained to disturb the foreign short wave broadcasting services from Norway and USA etc" he said.

Tibet Post (TPI): You were a reporter and presenter of Lhasa Radio broadcast of TAR. How was that worked?

Tsering Wangchuk: First, you must understand how mass media system in a communist state is organized. The policy of the whole category of media—programming, its rules and regulations have been created in tidied restrictions, Lhasa and TAR radio broadcasting itself-is in the hands of the TAR authorities, it is to be focused and reported only positive events in the broadcasts and newspapers. More practically, you can say, it is in the hands of one man, the party secretary of TAR. At its worst, these results in all Media’s works produced being of the type his decisions, but allowed to broadcasting some world news.

Tibetans usually used a phrase, “the whole news in the world is always reporting disaster, while in regional and national news they are always reporting success and good.” With this you have an idea of the situation. Because of this, we have no rights to search for a media system that would guarantee freedom of aspiration and a determination of freedom in media’s role, if we do this search, that concept of media units immediately crackdown or replaced. Many Tibetan writers and journalists have been arrested since 2006, including Tibetan writer Mr. Dolma Kyab. Now China has become the main enemy of international media; particularly to the 2445 Tibetan refugees escaped into exile and reached Dharamsala this year for a better right to speak up.

TPI: As a former Tibetan reporter from Tibet, what would you say?

Tsering Wangchuk: You have no idea that we always had fears for our safety, we worked under the constant threat of censorship and sanctions, each media unit consists of an editor, a literary writer, researcher and an executive director, these are just acting on their carrier. Around this trio are clustered with others, usually older editors who have been re-educated in communism or Chinese laws.

The people in each media unit work together for each news broadcast regarding the articles of viewpoint which adapted by the party committee. We broadcast or publish news, write stories, discuss one another’s work, so much dependent on each other, you can not setup your own talents with all units, we can not propose various media ideas to the director or editor, accept some positive or negative news of other countries, for example; the crisis in Iraq, middle east and US war on terror, the director or editor who always control the all functions with comments by party committee.

In last four decades, many Tibetan writers and journalists were forced to censor or lost their jobs; also there are many reasons for widespread self-censorship and the threat of prison is definitely one. Recently a Chinese reporter recalled the case of another Chinese reporter from Beijing who was dismissed by Radio Lhasa and forced to leave Tibet after investigating allegations that at least eight Chinese people had been murdered by the police. The serial killings, which took place at a Tibetan Town near Lhasa {Gonjar Zong) in the early 1990s, were never covered by media published in Tibet.

Most of reporters normally would be unable to discuss their reports with their editors or any news reports of crisis which were related to Chinese officials could only be published after permitted by the secretary general of TAR. This is my purpose and main duty as a former journalist; to carry out the realities about media in Tibet and there are reasons to become a refugee for free assessment of real news, but this time it is worse than the 1990s.

TPI: The party authorities control official Media in TAR, is there any independent agency?

Wangchuk: No. There is no any independent agency both in print and broadcast media in TAR, only official news media allowed. Until the start of 1980s, very few publications were available in Tibet; include Tibet youth weekly, the Communist youth wing's newspaper, launched in 1985, to Radio and TV, a weekly guide to the programs of radio and television stations, launched in 1989.

A report issued by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, July 1995, said that 55 publications were available in the autonomous region: 23 in Tibetan, 30 in Chinese and two in English. Four years later, in February 1999, the agency reported that the region had 16 newspapers, 34 magazines, 67 bookshops and four printing works since 1993, most are in Chinese language when I was in Tibet. In Tibet, where much of population is illiterate and poor, the power of foreign Radio, TV and Newspaper is particularly obvious.

The Radio broadcasting and TV programs are the main medium for mass information and education, and the Chinese communist government in Tibet has monopoly control over the mass media and with the lack of independent information sources, the general public has no access to free information and lacks a medium that addresses its concerns. The leading newspaper is the Tibet Daily in TAR, later published as the Lhasa Evening Newspaper, the newspapers states its purpose and main objectives, for example; it said “it is mouthpiece of the party committee” it never published a single unbiased and alternative news issue for Tibet and its people.

Another issue in most of the areas populated by Tibetans is the fact that very few Tibetan officials are employed in the Radio, TV and Newspaper departments. In Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan provinces heavily populated by Tibetans, most of these positions are occupied by Chinese officials; they always quote the news of the Xinhua news agency, the biggest official news agency of China.

TPI: Chinese authorities have numerous monitoring and jamming stations outfitted with the most sophisticated equipments after 1997, what do you think?

Wangchuk: The French company Thales has been the main foreign company providing equipment, technology and engineers assisting the Chinese authorities’ quest to silence and make unclear foreign short wave broadcasts. All of this relates to the world’s dependence on the Chinese economy. We don’t have the power to stop the foreigners from making money. In Tibet, the reporters have to subscribe to restrictions when writing reports; we cannot write about situations of Tibet or its history and can not write anything in contradiction of the government’s policy.

The reporters must write about how the government has helped the people. The jamming and blocking of the foreign radios has greatly increased and it is increasing, it is very difficult to buy a digital radio in Tibet, and the normal radio always gets jammed and blocked news from Radio Broadcasting services.

The Chinese authorities in Tibet did not show any significant sign of letting up. Throughout the years, various human rights abuses in Tibet were documented affecting both the civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights of the Tibetan people. Arbitrary arrest, detention and imprisonment continue to be appalling as ever in Tibet.  During this time, two events of concern occurred, the start of Gormo-Lhasa railway and the Nangpa La Pass tragedy. These gripped international attention intensifying concerns over cultural genocide in Tibet and the plight of Tibetans escaping human rights abuses in Chinese occupied Tibet.

TPI: End of 2006, China promised the free access of information for the foreign journalists which is supposed to start at the beginning of 2007, do you think that will bring any good changes in China, particularly in Tibet?

Wangchuk: No, not exactly. I think there is another dirty game starting behind the 2008 international Olympic Games in China. Chinese authorities have invited some internationally related journalists into China recently and they officially declared that the foreign journalists are allowed to access their reports independently from 2007. But on the heels of their recent political agenda and events, I think, there are no significant changes taking place in China and Tibet, so in that sense, it will not change.

Actually, the foreign journalists are demanding complete independent access to the information and report during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Game only, they might visit TAR and other provinces where Tibetans are most populated, but, they can not access and focus on any real issues of Tibet and Tibetan people under Chinese machine guns. Even if they managed to report on real issues, no one will give a guarantee for the safety of the Tibetans after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Another example, Chinese media Xinhua reported the railway carried 272,700 passengers and 37,400 tons of freight between July and September 2006, I think 60 percent of the 272,700 passengers remand settled in Tibet.

The Tibet Post interviewed the famous former Tibetan journalist of Radio Broadcast of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) on 26th June 2007.