A CCTV camera in a street in Lhasa. Photo: Weibo
11 years after historic riots, the Tibetan capital is awash with CCTV cameras
ByAsia Times staff 15 March 2019
Chinese media say virtually every street in Lhasa, capital of the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region populated by devout worshipers of Tibetan Buddhism, is under constant CCTV surveillance. This is on top of 24-hour patrols by policemen and auxiliary vigilantes who man 100 police stations across the city of 560,000 residents.
Facial and gait recognition technologies are said to be in wide use to analyze footage from Lhasa streets, with fugitives and those with criminal records tracked using ever-present camera technology and by heavy, on-the-ground police presence. The city’s three built-up districts as well as its main train station and airport are all covered by cameras and patrolled by police.
The People’s Daily also noted that, in the last eight years, not a single criminal case had been reported in Potala Palace square – Lhasa’s most important place of worship and tourist attraction. The same report said that constables at nearby police stations can respond to any emergency within three minutes.
The Tibetan government said in a report that 99% of Lhasa residents it surveyed in 2018 were satisfied with the city’s law and order situation.
Lhasa also leads the chart of the 38 safest cities in China, according to a blue book published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on public services in Chinese cities.
Lhasa saw a slew of riots and street violence in March 2008 by monks and other indigenous Tibetans, just as Beijing was about to host the 2008 Olympic Games. The unrest spread to a number of monasteries and other Tibetan areas as well as to neighboring regions with sizeable Tibetan populations. At the time, Beijing claimed that the protests were orchestrated by the Dalai Lama and other secessionist groups.