Chinese authorities are increasingly using opaque policy terms in official media to tighten repression in Tibet
Nets in the Sky, Traps on the Ground
Tibetan: gnam rgya sa rnyi གནམ་རྒྱ་ས་རྙི།
Chinese: tiānluó dìwǎng 天罗地网
This term refers to the pervasive systems of control and surveillance deployed to track, identify and capture criminals, dissidents, and fugitives. In the current Tibet context, it appears to refer to blocking foreign media broadcasts into Tibet, controlling cyberspace, and stopping Tibetans fleeing into exile or visiting India, where the Dalai Lama and the exile Tibetan government are based.
Chinese authorities are increasingly using opaque policy terms in official media to tighten repression in Tibet, Human Rights Watch said in an illustrated glossary released today.
Tibet: A Glossary of Repression explains and illustrates a dozen terms that appear benign or even positive but are in fact used to ensure total compliance and surveillance by officials of ordinary Tibetan people. The glossary includes terms that relate to political and social control, such as “comprehensive rectification,” “no cracks, no shadows, no gaps left,” and “every village a fortress, everyone a watchman.”
First appeared: in a play by an anonymous author from the Yuan era (1261-1368), in which a character says “Celestialsoldiers, set up nets in the sky and traps on the ground, don’t let demons slip away!” Revived in various forms in the Communist era, both before and since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Example of usage:
- The key to upholding social harmony and stability is people. The autonomous regional Party committee and government have all along concentrated on integrating experts and people, vigorously implementing mass prevention and mass control, relying on the masses, mobilizing the masses, and fully bringing into play the roles of ‘factory care teams, school care teams, village care teams,’ and red arm-band teams, leading all areas of society to actively participate in constructing ‘peace work units,’ and further building nets in the sky, traps on the ground, and copper ramparts and iron walls for upholding social stability.
Variant usage: the phrase “nets spread from the earth to the sky” was used by Mao Zedong in his On Protracted War in 1938 and revived by Xi Jinping in a speech on crushing “terrorism” at the 2nd Xinjiang Work Conference in May 2014. The term “Skynet” (tianwang) is used for China’s video surveillance system, and for the drive by China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection since April 2015 to repatriate high-profile corruption suspects