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Tibetan monks lose their TVs as China's censors raid monasteries

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It’s been a tough year for Tibetan monks and things have just gotten tougher after Chinese authorities confiscated TVs in 300 monasteries and wrecked satellite gear that Beijing claimed was broadcasting "anti-China" content.

An article from the state-run Qinghai news agency spotted by Reuters claimed that the local government in Tibetan-dominated Huangnan prefecture, Qinghai province, took the drastic measures in a bid to stop the flurry of self-immolations that have occurred this year.

It said 81 Tibetans had set themselves ablaze to protest Chinese rule in the past 12 months, including five in Huangnan province.

"At this critical moment for maintaining social stability in Huangnan prefecture ... (we must) strengthen measures and fully fight the special battle against self-immolations," the article claimed, according to Reuters.

It said these measures include “guiding public opinion on the Dalai issue” and “blocking outside harmful information”.

Tibetans in rural areas have apparently been singled out by the Chinese authorities for using satellite TV to tune into anti-Chinese programmes from outside the country.

The local government is set to invest 8.64 million yuan (£859,000) to install 50 new transmitters to improve the broadcast coverage for the prefecture’s state-owned TV channels.

Given the heightened political sensitivity surrounding the area, which was invaded by China in 1950, Beijing has always sought to keep tighter-than-usual control over the information locals can access.

In February, for example, officials cut internet and phone access completely in certain parts of the region after Tibetans rioted in Sichuan province.

Tibetan activists and not-for-profits across the globe have also been subject to sustained and targeted cyber espionage attacks. ®

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