The Chinese government has included several Tibetan officials working in stability maintenance in restive Tibetan regions on a list of honorees in 2020, sending a clear message to Tibetans that those working within the Chinese security apparatus will be rewarded.
Chinese state media announced that 1,689 “National Model Workers” and 804 “National Advanced Workers” received awards from President Xi Jinping on Nov. 24, 2020, signifying the importance the Chinese Communist Party places on the issue.
Thirty of them were Tibetans, including a militia platoon leader, the head of a county Public Security Bureau checkpoint, and the staff of public security bureaus in the restive Tibetan regions of Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu), Ngaba (Aba) and Kardze (Ganzi) that have seen protests and/or self-immolations.
In the Tibet Autonomous Region, which spans much of southern and western Tibet, Kel Norbu (Ga Luobu), a militia platoon leader in Gampa (Gangba), a border town in Shigatse City, was recognized as a “model worker” for leading the militiamen to patrol the border mountain pass to prevent “illegal entry and exit.” China prevents Tibetans from escaping across the border to flee the Chinese government’s massive human rights violations and repression in their homeland, which China annexed more than 60 years ago.
Another Tibetan, Jampa Namgyal (Xiangba Langjia), a fire brigade worker from Kharo (Karuo) area in Chamdo City, was honored among others for ensuring “harmony and stability of a monastery.”
Song Fei, a Tibetan deputy head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Public Security Bureau of Ngaba Tibetan & Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province, was recognized as an “advanced worker.” Ngaba has been the site of many protests and self-immolations, and Song is credited for “stability maintenance.” Restrictions have been tight in Ngaba, where the wave of self-immolations began in 2009.
Tashi Dhondup (Zhaxi Dunzhu), head of the PSB checkpoint in Nyenrong (Nierong) county in Nagchu City, is another award recipient. Nagchu has been the center of Tibetan protests in recent times, and Tashi is credited with advising people “during sensitive periods.” Generally, such periods are politically sensitive anniversaries, like Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10 or the birthday of the current Dalai Lama on July 6.
In Kanlho (Gannan) in Gansu Province, Pema Namgyal (Baima Nanjia), chief of the Fire Rescue Brigade in Thewo (Diebu) County, is also a recipient of the award.
Although not a Tibetan, the head of the legal system detachment of the PSB of Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province was also honored. Kardze has seen several self-immolations and active protests by Tibetans.
In September 2020, the San Francisco-based prisoners’ rights advocacy group Duihua reported that nine Tibetans in Kardze were “convicted of inciting splittism.” “Splittism” is a term coined by the Chinese government to define activities connected to the Tibetan independence movement and is categorized under the crime of endangering state security. Similarly, in April 2019, a Tibetan man was imprisoned in Kardze after he called for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, whom the Chinese government kidnapped in 1995.
Nineteen of the awardees are from the Tibet Autonomous Region, one each from Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Ngaba Tibetan & Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, six from Qinghai province, two from Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, and one from the Dechen (Diqing) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan province. Included in the list from Qinghai is Choyang Kyi (Qieyang Shijie), a race walker and Olympic medalist, who was recognized as an “advanced worker.”
China has said that “model workers” and “advanced workers” are “vanguards in the construction of socialist material civilization, political civilization and spiritual civilization.” The purpose of the awards is to promote the spirit of model workers, the spirit of labor and the great character of the Chinese working class and the working people, according to official media.
Writing in ICT’s Tibet Press Watch in July 2002, a Tibetan observer divided some of the Tibetan collaborators in the Chinese system into two categories, new loyalists and opportunists. Although the writer was talking about another generation of Tibetan officials, some of the characteristics could apply to some of the current officials of the Chinese system.
In short, the writer said new loyalists believe that Tibet should depend on China. Although they are aware of some brutal Chinese policies in Tibet, they want to believe that some aggressive measures are necessary to transform Tibet from a dark, brutal and backward nation (which is China’s racist propaganda about Tibet). The Chinese want to use these people to control Tibet.
As for the opportunists, the writer says they have no special agendas or goals. They use any ideas, identities and beliefs to advance their personal benefit and secure their positions in society. Their basic education is Chinese, but they have little Tibetan knowledge. Their philosophies of life, political beliefs and values developed during China’s massive self-transformation after the death of Chairman Mao. They see the weaknesses of Chinese politics and values. They witness the weakness of Tibetans under Chinese domination. The opportunists also hold the view that Tibetan culture could not save Tibet, and neither can Chinese culture and values, so personal success is more important than anything else.
In a related development indicating Chinese authorities’ continued propaganda about “stability maintenance” in Tibet, a propaganda film about securing Tibetan borders was honored at this year’s Golden Rooster Awards, the main film award event in China.
“My Himalaya” presents a “touching story” of an elderly Tibetan herder and his family from Yulmay (Yumai) Township in Lhoka (Shannan) City, undertaking the “patriotic deeds” of “guarding the country.” Yulmay is close to the Indian border.
The film was produced by the Propaganda Department of the Party Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
List of awardees
Following are the Tibetans honored by the Chinese government this year.
National Model Worker
- Chime Dorjee (Qimei Duoji), China Post Group Corporation Sichuan Kardze (Ganzi) County Branch Mail Transport Driving Team Leader, Senior Engineer
- Kel Norbu (Ga Luobu), militia platoon leader, Gyeru (Jiru) Village, Gampa (Gangba) Town, Gampa (Gangba) County, Shigatse (Xigaze) City
- Karma Tsegyal (Gamazejia), secretary of the Party Branch of Gyang-ngon (Jueen) Village, Gyang-ngon (Jueen )Township, Tengchen (Dingqing) County, Chamdo (Changdu)
- Phunlak (Pingla), chairman of the Mangphen Mirik (Limin Minzu) Handicraft Processing Farmers Professional Cooperative in Tashi Dzom (Zhaxi Zong) Township, Lhatse (Lazi) County
- Sodol (Suo Zhen), head nurse and junior nurse at Tibet Fukang Medical Co., Ltd.
- Tashi Nyima (Zhaxi Nima), State Grid Tibet Electric Power Co., Ltd., Lhasa Power Supply Company Urban Power Supply Service Center, Deputy Team Leader
- Yeshi Dolkar (Yixi Zhuoga), general manager of China Post Group Corporation Tsonyi (Shuanghu) County Branch
- Dorjee Norbu (Duoji Luobu), secretary of the Party Committee and chairman of Tibet Thotson (Gaozheng) Building Materials Group, and Khalam (Tianlu) Group Co., Ltd. senior engineer
- Tsedup (Ceng Zhu), deputy team leader of the Chuerol (Jurui) Farmers and Herdsmen Professional Cooperative, Rongtoe (Rongduo) Township, Jiali County
- Gyakloe (Jialu), head of the Developed Farmers Cooperative in Zangri (Sangri) County
- Norbu Dhondup (Luobu Dunzhu), secretary of the Party and Mass Department of China Telecom Group Corporation Tibet Branch
- Lhadron (La Zhen), person in charge of Changthang Yardrok (Jiangtang Yangzhuo) Tibetan Restaurant
- Lhakchung (Laqiong), workshop director of Tibet Highland Barley Technology Co., Ltd.
- Tsering Dhondup (Ciren Dunzhu), manager of Milk Source Department of Tibet Plateau Yak Dairy Co., Ltd.
- Nyima Dhondup (Nima Dunzhu), head of Farmers’ Professional Cooperative in Chamguk (Qiangu) Village, Woma (Wuma) Township, Ghertse (Gaize) County
- Tsering Tsomo (Ciren Cuomo), director of Production Workshop of Tibet Ganlu Tibetan Medicine Co., Ltd.
- Wu’erbai, sanitation worker, Municipal Supervision Brigade, Machu (Maqu) County
- Yue Hong, deputy president of Machen (Maqin) County Branch, Agricultural Bank of China
- Tagyal (Zhajia), chairman of the Zangdi Animal Husbandry Cooperative in Chumarleb (Qumalai) County, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, member of the Disciplinary Committee of Ghuchen (Geqian) Village, Yuge (Yuegai) Town, Chumarleb (Qumalai) County
- Tsebho (Caibao), Tsochang (Haibei) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Chongchul (Quanji) Township, Kangtsa (Gangcha) County, Nyinsha (Ningxia) Ecological Animal Husbandry Professional Cooperative production manager, Nyinsha (Ningxia) Village Party Branch secretary
- Dhoten (Duodan), party branch secretary of Ghutoe (Geduo) Village, Tawo (Dawu) Township, Machen (Maqin) County, Golok (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
National Advanced Worker
- Song Fei, deputy chief of Criminal Investigation Division of Public Security Bureau of Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, first class sergeant
- Tibu, director of Agricultural and Rural Economic Development Service Center of Dechen (Diqing) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, senior agronomist
- Jampa Namgyal (Xiangba Nanjia), chief of the Khro (Karuo) District Brigade, Chamdo (Changdu) Detachment, Fire and Rescue Corps
- Tashi Dhondup (Zhaxi Dunzhu), third-level sergeant, Nierong Town Police Station, Nierong County Public Security Bureau
- Norbu (Luobu), first-level chief staff member of the Association of Tibetan Compatriots Abroad in Lhasa
- Tsering Dhondup (Ciren Dunzhu), chief physician, senior chief physician, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Pema Namgyal (Banma Nanjia), chief of Fire Rescue Brigade, Thewo (Diebu) County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
- Hou Shengzhen, professor of Qinghai University
- Choeyang Kyi (Qieyang Shijie), a race walking athlete, a second-level coach, and an international athlete of the Qinghai Provincial Sports Work Team
 Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Ngaba (Aba) and Kardze (Ganzi) are autonomous prefectures located in Sichuan Province.