“Sorry, the subscriber you dialed has switched his power off,” “Sorry, you CAN NOT use this service!” These are some of the automatic voices you often hear when you dial phone numbers in certain areas in Tibet. If you have the patience to keep trying, sometimes it would get through but only to find out that your contact’s phone was never turned off. This is part of the phone blockage system that Chinese authorities seems to use. China has announced that it has completed the so-called “real name registration” in some Tibetan areas. Penpa, a former Tibetan political prisoner from Lhasa who currently lives in New York said that his calls to his family in Lhasa no longer goes through.
“Sometimes the Chinese pick it up and ask me why I was calling?,” Penpa says. Serenade Wood, a Hong Kong based researcher for International Federation of Journalists, tells Tibet in Review that the Chinese authorities tend to block or tap phone calls made by “sensitive people.”
Sources: Xinhua News; Aljazeera; Interview with Serenade Wood, Hong Kong based China Coordinator of IFJ; Penpa Tsomonling, a NY based Tibetan from Lhasa.