BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in China’s Tibet will offer rewards up to 300,000 yuan ($48,000) for tips on “violent terror attacks”, state media reported, in an effort to “promote stability” in the region beset by ethnic tensions.
China has stressed that it is facing a serious and complex struggle against terrorism, and other provinces and regions have offered similar payouts for information on what authorities deem terrorism crimes and suspects.
In Tibet, the government will give rewards for tip-offs on “overseas terrorist organizations and their members’ activities inside China”, and the “spreading of religious extremism”, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Saturday.
Information on “terror related propaganda, those producing, selling and owning weapons, activities that help terrorists cross national borders and terror activities via the Internet,” will also be eligible for rewards, Xinhua said, citing a document from Tibet’s public security officials.
China launched an anti-terrorism crackdown in May after a series of attacks that authorities have blamed on separatists and Islamist militants from the western Xinjiang region, home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.
Hundreds of people have been killed over the past two years in Xinjiang and elsewhere around the country in such violence.
There is little indication that any such attacks have occurred in Tibet, though violent protests have erupted over what human rights activists say are harsh Chinese policies that trample on Tibetan religious freedom and culture.
Rights groups also argue that a new Chinese draft law to combat terrorism is extremely broad and would give authorities unchecked powers to commit rights abuses.
The draft’s definition of terrorism includes “thought, speech, or behavior” that attempt to “subvert state power”, “incite ethnic hatred” or “split the state”. Subversion and splittism are catch-all charges that have been used against dissidents.
China rejects criticism of its policies in Tibet, saying its rule, since Communist Chinese troops “peacefully liberated” the region in 1950, ended serfdom and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region.
Beijing says Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet. The Dalai Lama says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating independence or violence.
Reporting by Michael Martina and Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Jeremy Laurence