Tibetan nuns, monks receive anti-espionage education

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-13 0:28:01

Tibet a battleground for foreign intelligence organizations: expert

Monks and nuns from a city in Tibet Autonomous Region have received anti-espionage lectures from local security officials.

Twenty-two monks and nuns from three temples in Nyingchi, a city in southeastern Tibet, close to the Sino-Indian border, received the three-hour lecture at Lamaling Temple on the counter-espionage law by local national security officials, news portal Tibet.cn reported Tuesday.

The lecture expounded on how to abide by the counter-espionage law and the legal consequences of violating the law, said the report.

"Nyingchi is of special importance to anti-espionage efforts because there are many military sites," Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

The monks and nuns are considered vulnerable to espionage activities, as many senior officials in China often visit eminent monks. And temples have always been a focus of government to maintain the stability of Tibet, according to Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Necessary intervention

The lecture also covers the intention, content and significance of the counter-espionage law, enacted in November 2014, said the report.

Cui Shixin, an official from Nyingchi's national security bureau, concluded that he hopes the monks and nuns can enhance their capability to distinguish right from wrong and safeguard national unity.

An anonymous official with the religious affairs office of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Tibet committee told the Global Times that he had never heard of such lectures but emphasized they are necessary.

"Monks are also members of the nation and need to abide by the laws and regulations," he said. 

An official surnamed Chen with the ethnic and religious affairs bureau in Nyingchi also told the Global Times that the city has conducted legal education in temples and religious sites, mainly covering laws and regulations relevant to ethnic unity.

There have been other activities to publicize the counter-espionage law in Tibet, including a joint promotional campaign on the law in eight counties in Tibet in November, according to a website affiliated with the Chamdo Prefecture government.

Analysts believe that many overseas intelligence agencies have targeted Tibet as a critical battleground for espionage activities, taking advantage of the active ethnic separatists in the area to provoke conflict and turmoil.

Lian Xiangmin, director of the Modern Institute of the China Tibetology Research Center, told the Global Times that the move could aim at countering espionage activities by the Dalai Lama's "government-in-exile."

The 14th Dalai Lama had advocated the political ideal of a plan for a "Greater Tibet" with "a high degree of autonomy," which was slammed by the Chinese authorities as an attempt to create a "state within a state" on Chinese territory as an interim step toward the ultimate goal of full independence.

Separatist targets

Several officials were investigated in 2014 for allegedly participating in the illegal underground "Tibetan Independence" organization, providing intelligence to the Dalai Lama clique and assisting in activities that would harm national security, authorities in Tibet announced in January.

Tibet is a significant battleground for foreign intelligence institutions, and the trend is likely to continue, as ethnic separatist forces in Tibet are good targets for those agencies, said Li.

Li added that the Internet has basically connected everyone and espionage activities are conducted in various forms.

China has in the past year strengthened its crackdown on espionage.

Four employees of an unnamed State-owned defense company suspected of leaking confidential information to overseas spy agencies were arrested by local security officers in Sichuan Province, the Chengdu-based West China Metropolis Daily reported Wednesday.

Security authorities in Northeast China's Jilin Province and South China's Hainan province both launched counter-espionage hot lines in 2015, through which citizens and organizations can report suspected espionage.

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