China has replaced a 2016 cyber law in Tibet with effect from Feb 1 to give more power to impose tougher punishments for anyone deemed to be creating “public disorder by engaging in separatist acts,” reported the Tibetan service of rfa.org Jan 1.
The report said the new law was designed to strengthen digital surveillance and censorship in the region, with new requirements allowing authorities to target Tibetans for online activity deemed critical of Chinese rule in the region.
However, the law does not specify the type of violations that would get individual Tibetans in trouble with authorities, the report said, thereby giving Chinese police arbitrary power to target anyone having cultural, social, or religious conversations related to Tibet.
“[The law] will leave room for Chinese authorities to arrest and detain them on simple but also uncertain charges,” Sangay Kyab, described as a researcher at the Tibetan Center for Human Rights, has said.
The report cited Article 11 of the new law as saying anyone seen to be posing a threat to national security and public interest, deemed to be anti-socialist, or seen as engaging in separatism by maintaining any association with Tibetan independence groups or individuals will face punishment.
Also seen as liable to be punished are those who would share related photos, speeches, campaigns, books or videos, or who support these activities.