Radio for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
A documentation by Dr Hansjoerg Biener
peace radio site
© PD Dr Hansjoerg Biener
created 0112, updated 0803
Comments and contributions are welcome. Material may be re-printed but a complimentary copy of the publication is expected. 

PR China / Tibet

Just in time for the meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in September and October 2006, Freedom House released its annual report of the world's most repressive regimes. ( The situation in Tibet is listed among "The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Regimes" considered to have the worst human rights records in the past year. In these eight countries and two territories, "state control over daily life is pervasive and wide-ranging, independent organisations and political opposition are banned or suppressed, and fear of retribution for independent thought and action is part of daily life". Freedom House says it hopes the report will focus the U.N. Human Rights Council's attention on countries and territories that deserve investigation and condemnation for their widespread violations. The Council includes among its 47 members three countries profiled in "The Worst of the Worst": China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. In June 2006, the Council replaced the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which had been heavily criticised by human rights groups for allowing repressive regimes to gain influence over the monitoring body.

International broadcasting to Tibet
Large areas of historical and ethnic Tibet are now incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Qinghai and Gansu (traditionally known as Amdo), and Sichuan and Yunnan (traditionally known s Kham). More Tibetans in China now live outside the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) than inside it. Even though there are many more, one can say that there are three "main dialects" of Tibetan spoken in Tibet.  The Lhasa dialect, spoken in the capital and Central Tibet (the provinces called U and Tsang - the part the Chinese  call the "Autonomous Region"), is the most widely understood in the rest of the country. Then there is the Kham dialect and the Amdo dialect. These are the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country respectively (which these days belong to Quinghai, Sezhuan and even Yunnan provinces depending on how far east or south-east they extend). Both dialects differ considerably from the Lhasa dialect. In regard to international broadcasting, the only dialect used by All India Radio and the US stations was the Lhasa dialect.
In late 2000, the Voice of America released audience research among the people of Tibet which may also serve as an introduction into the international broadcasting scene to Tibet.The VoA has been broadcasting in Tibetan since 1991. The report showed that the Voice of America's Tibetan Language Service was the most widely listened to radio station in Tibet, drawing more listeners than any other international station and exceeding the audience of stations sanctioned by the Chinese government. A total of 45.2% of adult exiles or travelers from Tibet in Dharamsala (India), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Bodhgaya (India) reported listening to VOA Tibetan at least once a week. In the survey, Tibetan People's Radio placed second with 34.7%, Qinghai People's Radio was third with 28.4%, another U.S. government-funded station, Radio Free Asia, was fourth with 22%, All India Radio was fifth with 21% and the Central People's Radio from Beijing placed sixth at 13.9%.
The research was commissioned by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the U.S. Government and was conducted in late 1999 and early 2000. Because the research could not be conducted inside the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, it cannot be read as representative of the entire Tibetan population. But it is an  indication that news and information about the world and the Tibetan people is reaching Tibet, despite Chinese government efforts to jam international signals. Among those interviewed who said they listened to any Tibetan or Chinese-language service of any major western broadcasters, 98.6% said they listened to the Voice of America. Of these international radio listeners, 49.1% listened exclusively to VOA, while 46.1% listened to both VOA and Radio Free Asia. Listeners to VOA, RFA, and BBC London accounted for an additional 3.3%.
It should be noted that Christian broadcasters also target Tibet in spite of its strong Lamaist tradition, but there is a kind of a "gentlemen agreement". This was publicly confirmed in 2001, when the communist government was stepping up attempts to jam the increasing number of foreign radio broadcasts into Tibet. On the occasion, Jim Bowman of evangelical broadcaster FEB-International said while the government was trying to stop political broadcasters they would not necessarily interfer with their broadcasts: "We've been told this by Chinese officials many times, especially with regard to our office in Hong Kong. As long as we broadcast strictly what they call 'religious' material, or the Gospel, they won't jam, but if we do anything that sounds to them like politics, then they do jam." [1]

All India Radio
The Tibetan service of All India Radio's External Services Division has played an important role in informing the Tibetan-speaking community in the Himalayan region since the late 1950. At the beginning of the 21 century however production  has collapsed. All the permanent  staff members have retired with no one having been appointed to replace them. The programmes are now produced by some retired people working as "casual artistes." Critics find it surprising, that AIR would not be able to find capable and qualified Tibetan-speaking individuals who could work for the Tibetan service. (What Ails All India Radio's Tibetan Service? Tibetan Review[Friday, February 16, 2007 12:46] By Bhuchung K. Tsering's+Tibetan+Service%3F&id=15603)
Nontheless, Chinese authorities bother to jam the Tibetan programmes of All India Radio.

Chinese jamming measures
Unlike a few years back when a frequency change from unwanted broadcasters like Voice of Tibet took the Chinese authorities a week to find out, more recently, the effectiveness of their monitoring team has much improved. If they don't find the broadcast within five minutes, they take the jammer off and go looking for the new frequency. The new approach was particularly evident on the first days of the winter broadcast season 2003/04. At the top of the hour, jammers were switched off for five minutes leaving Radio Free Asia in the clear. Monitors used these windows for their monitoring of the winter schedules. Further listening revealed that these breaks were made for nearly all jammed stations, including Voice of America, BBC London and the Taiwanese stations. Chinese jammers used to be switched on before or at the program start, while the Soviet jamming system operators used to listen for the programme start before giving orders to switch on the jammers. As a consequence, Western broadcasters subject to jamming opened transmissions with a quick reading of the news headlines immediately.

Voice of Tibet
Audience Relations, Voice of Tibet, 
Narthang Building, Gangchen 
Kyishiong, Dharmasala-176215, 
Himachal Pradesh, India.
voteditor @ (Mr. Karma Yashi)

The Norwegian office which used to function as an international address is only involved in raising the necessary funds. 

winter 2007/08:
11.30-12.00: 11560 (Taiwan) in Tibetan.
11.00-15.20: 7425-7495 from Dushanbe (100 kW, 131° for Tibet in Tibetan and Chinese
14.00-14.27: 17550  from Madagascar (250 kW, 45°) for Tibetan exile community in India in Tibetan
15.29-16.00: 17550  from Madagascar (250 kW, 45°) for Tibetan exile community in India in Tibetan
Uhr Weltzeit (+1=MEZ) Frequenz (Sender) Programm (Shigenori Aoki 9.11.2007 via Wg. Büschel BCDX)

In 1996 Norwegian NGO Worldview International Foundation and other humanitarian organizations helped to establish the Voice of Tibet to serve as an independent radio station for Tibet and its neighbouring countries: "The denial of free speech in Tibet threatens the distinctive culture and the  very existence of the Tibetan people in Tibet. The Chinese authorities are  systematically eradicating the national identity of the Tibetans. One of the most ancient cultures in the world is in danger of extinction. Since the spring of 1996 the communist party have conducted an intensified campaign in Tibet aimed at the heart of the Tibetan culture. As a consequence of this move, there is an escalation of human rights abuses. Monks, nuns and teachers are especially at risk. As the Chinese government's grip on all parts of the Tibetan society is tightening, there is an increasing need for information from independent sources. To strengthen the Tibetan civil society Worldview, the Norwegian Human Rights house and the Norwegian Tibet Committee, took the initiative to set up a radio station." [2]

The first 15 minutes programme went on the air on 14 May 1996 on FEBA-Radio which had daily Christian programmes in Tibetan and was immediately jammed. Originally the station's daily 15-minute programme consisted of international news for five minutes and a featured story based mainly on the international issues of human rights and also the situation in Tibet. Very soon, the Voice of Tibet left FEBA-Radio for the use of short wave transmitters in the CIS Central Asian Republics. Its output was increased to half an hour daily in January 1997, and by March 1999 this had risen to three 45 minutes daily transmissions.To evade Chinese jamming, the Voice of Tibet changes frequencies in a certain frequency range. This used to leave the programme in the clear one or more days, but more recently Chinese jamming keeps up with the changes from day one.
Every day Voice of Tibet broadcasts a 30 minutes news service in the Tibetan language followed by a 15 minutes news service in Mandarin Chinese. The Mandarin Service was started on December 10, 1999 to reach the Chinese audience.

The programs are produced by Tibetan journalists stationed in several countries, with the main editorial office in India. Voice of Tibet programs mainly focus on Tibet related issues, following the development inside Tibet as well as reporting on the activities and working of Exile democratic institutions. Twice a week VOT airs the Dalai Lama's latest public speeches in serialised form.

Voice of Tibet targeting the Tibetan Exile Community
On 1 September 2005, Voice of Tibet started two new short wave broadcasts into India. "Since these two broadcasts targets the Tibetan exile community in India only, we hope and expect that the Chinese authorities will not attempt to interfere on these txions," says Oystein Alme at VOT administrative office in Norway. "Our txions into Tibet and China has faced severe jamming attempts by Chinese stations for many years now, thus badly affecting the availability of VOT's short wave transmissions also in India. That is why we want to provide a separate servicce to the exile community in India."Initially, the 30-minute-long programmes in Tibetan were broadcast 1400-1430 and  1530-1600 UTC on 17550 kHz.

April 24, 2007: The Foundation Voice of Tibet launches campaign to protest Chinese radio "jamming".
Based on the fact that the Peoples Republic of China has systematically "jammed" Voice of Tibet's and other "foreign" short wave radio services for more than 10 years now, we call for action and support internationally
to protest and demand an immediate stop to these violating acts. According to the PRC Constitution and numerous UN Resolutions we demand that the Chinese authorities immediately start respecting the rights of the citizens they govern as well as the rights of citizens of other countries (also affected by the Chinese "jamming").
Voice of Tibet (VOT) is an independent NGO radio station, registered as a foundation in Norway in 1995. VOT's daily services contain uncensored news and information about Tibet related issues in Tibetan and Mandarin languages. Every day a 30 minutes program in Tibetan and a 15 minutes program in Mandarin is produced and aired on short wave repeatedly from 7 pm till midnight Beijing time.
VOT started broadcasting on short wave towards India, Nepal, Tibet and China on 14 May 1996, renting airtime from FEBA Radio's transmitter site at the Seychelles. After a few weeks VOT's transmissions became the target of hostile jamming from Chinese stations transmitting distorted noise and music on VOT's internationally registered frequencies. In the autumn of 1996 the PRC authorities threatened FEBA Radio to cancel the contract with VOT, by threatening to "jam" all FEBA Radio's other transmissions as well. Due to this threat FEBA stopped transmitting VOT's programs in 1996.
From 2000 onwards the Chinese jamming towards VOT's transmissions was further intensified, as has been the case for most other stations providing programming towards China in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tibetan, Uyghur and other minority language services.
These days each and every VOT transmission is targeted by at least two simultaneous jamming transmissions from the PRC authorities, using "state-of-the-art" facilities outside cities like Beijing, Xian, Nanjing and Linhe. In more than 40 Tibetan cities and townships "ground-wave" jamming transmissions are targeting VOT's internationally registered frequencies. The reach of these local jamming transmissions varies from 10 to 30 km in radius (from the antenna, which is often located at a high point overseeing the valley or city) and is very effective within this limited reach.
In Tibet the authorities define listening to "foreign" broadcasts such as VOT's as "splittist" acts. Those caught listening or showing others how to tune to them are prosecuted or sent to "reform-through-labour" camps.
The Chinese jamming transmissions not only affects and denies citizens within the borders of China access to our transmissions, it also affects and denies access for listeners in countries like Nepal, India, Taiwan and most parts of Europe as well.
PRC violating UN resolutions and its own Constitution The following is a brief presentation outlining some of the rights (supposed to be held) by all people governed by the PRC. Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution "guarantees" its citizens: (Freedom of speech, press, assembly) Citizens of the People's Republic of China (shall) enjoy freedom of speech, of thepress, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
In its first decision on the subject, in 1946, the UN General Assembly (Resolution 59(1)) declared freedom of information to be a fundamental human right. "Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and is the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated". The same declaration further states: "Freedom of information implies the right to gather, transmit and publish news anywhere and everywhere without letters. As such it is an essential factor in any serious effort to promote the peace and the progress of the world."
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted and declared by the UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948, reads: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Specifically on the issue of "jamming" a (1950) UN General Assembly Resolution states: "Jamming of radio broadcasts is condemned as a denial of the right of all persons to be fully informed concerning news, opinions, and ideas regardless of frontiers."
APPEAL: Based on the internationally acknowledged right to disseminate information through radio broadcasts without disturbances, and the rights of our listeners to access uncensored news and information, the Foundation Voice of Tibet strongly protest the PRC censorship violations. We call for action and support from Governments, politicians and NGO's worldwide in addressing the issue of jamming towards representatives of the Peoples Republic of China, demanding an immediate stop to their hostile "jamming" transmissions. We request that these violations of basic rights of millions of people in Tibet and China should be part of any dialogue with PRC representatives.
The Foundation Voice of Tibet would also be most happy to provide further information and documentation on the above mentioned issues. A brief video presentation of VOT can be seen at: <> or at: <>
The Foundation Voice of Tibet launches campaign to protest Chinese radio "jamming"

Chinese investments into the transmitter infrastructure in Tibet
Although the People's Republic continues jamming international stations, China also options to drain the potential audience to international broadcasting. The Government has been carrying out an extensive programme in Tibet to strengthen reception by local radio in the remote autonomous region. The central government spent 80m yuan (nearly 10m USD) to set up 75 FM stations at county level and renovated 14 mediumwave stations with transmitter power over 1 kW. The regional government has also spent more than 20m yuan (2.4m USD) in renovating six medium wave stations and training 290 staff. The overall transmitter power in Tibet has reached 4,000 kW compared with 2,500 kW one year earlier. Tibetan radio stations have extended their Tibetan-language broadcast time from nine hours a day to 17 hours. The strengthening of FM and standard AM broadcasting also means that Tibetan would be less dependent on short wave transmissions from Lhasa or Beijing which in turn means that there would be less need for radio receivers capable of international short wave radio reception.

Holy Tibet Broadcasts
CTPBC China Tibet People's Broadcasting Station
180 Beijing Zhonglu, Lhasa, Xizang 850000 China,, xzzbs2003 @

Responding to international interest and tourism China Tibet People's Broadcast Company introduced a "Holy Tibet" broadcast in English beside broadcasts in Chinese and Tibetan. The programme seen by critics as a propaganda programme to justify China's annexation of Tibet started as a  quarter hour in May 2001 but was later expanded to 30 minutes. New programmes are produced on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays with repeats on the following days. On Sundays there is only a music programme. Currently (July 2007) it is aired at 07.00-07.30 and 16.30-17.00 on the frequencies of the Tibetan Programme.

short wave schedule (July 2007)
03.00-09.00: 11860 11950 
09.00-17.30: 7170  7240 
20.00-17.30: 4820 5935  6050
20.00-03.00: 7170  7240 
02.00-10.00: 9490 
02.00-09.30: 9580
09.30-18.00: 7385 
10.00-18.00: 7125
21.00-18.00: 6200 
21.00-02.00: 4905 4920 5240 6110 6130 7125 7385 
Due to transmitter maintenance, programmes are off the air on Tuesdays from 06.00 to 10.00.
It is disputed among short wave enthusiasts whether China uses just the Lhasa site for short wave coverage of the area. The World Radio Handbook also lists short wave frequencies as coming from Xi'an (6050 6200 7125 kHz) and Lingshi (7385 kHz). The vast area of the Tibetan Autonomous Region can probably not be covered effectively at all times from one site only, i.e. Lhasa.

Latest developments
In January 2004, Radio Free Asia (RFA) began broadcasting live streaming audio of its Tibetan-language radio programmes on the Internet. Following the closure of the station at Holzkirchen in December 2003, the station now had the following shortwave schedule:
01.00-03.00 7470 7560 9670 11695 15220 17730
06.00-07.00 17515 17540 17720 21570 21715
11.00-14.00 7470 9365-D03 11540 13625 15435 15185-(from 1200)
15.00-16.00 7470 7495 11520 15385
23.00-23.59 6010 7415 7470 7550 9875
h UTC     frequencies in kHz
Much to the surprise of international observers, Tibetan services from RFA and VoA were not always loudly jammed. At times, even most of the channels used by the US external broadcasters were totally unaffected by Chinese jamming. Radio Free Asia (RFA) has begun broadcasting live streaming audio of its Tibetan-language radio programs on the Internet from 1 March 2004.

BBG Press VOA and RFA Increase Broadcasts to Tibet   03/17/2008
U.S. international radio broadcasts to Tibet will increase by four hours daily beginning tonight at 6:00 p.m. EDT, 6:00 a.m. local time in Lhasa.
"The violent crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet compels us to increase our broadcasts," said James K. Glassman, Chairman of the BBG, which oversees all non-military U.S. international broadcasting including the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA). "Our audience clearly will benefit from these trustworthy sources of news and information, which differ sharply from Chinese government sanctioned broadcasts."
At present RFA broadcasts eight hours daily to Tibet via shortwave radio. VOA broadcasts four hours daily, also via shortwave. Each will expand radio programs by two additional hours daily. VOA also will double its weekly Tibetan-language television programming from one to two hours via the AsiaSat 3 satellite.
"RFA's Tibetan service is working around the clock to bring authoritative, breaking news to the Tibetan people. These additional hours will greatly enhance our capacity to deliver this news, including live updates, to people on the ground," RFA President Libby Liu said.
Tibet's media is tightly controlled and most Tibetans are deeply suspicious of Chinese domestic media coverage. BBG audience research, while limited to Tibetan refugees in Nepal, indicates that VOA and RFA are among the most well known foreign broadcasters and an important source of information in a society where word of mouth is the top way to share news.
"We know from experience that Tibetans will tune to VOA at pivotal times such as these," said Danforth Austin, Director of the Voice of America. "For example, a VOA special TV program about the Dalai Lama receiving a gold medal from the U.S. Congress was recorded and widely distributed in Tibetan regions inside China."

RSF says Chinese have improved jamming capabilities
In a press release to mark the 70th birthday of the Dalai Lama, international press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) notes that the passing years have brought no let-up in harsh curbs on press freedom in Tibet by the Chinese authorities.
RSF notes that the US-based Radio Free Asia and Voice of America and the Indian-based Voice of Tibet, the main radio stations broadcasting Tibetan-language programming to Tibet, are systematically jammed. RSF says that, thanks to the acquisition of ALLISS antennae made by the French company Thalès, the Chinese authorities have improved their jamming capabilities. Installed above all in the far northwestern city of Kashi, they are used to jam international radio signals.
Radio Free Asia broadcasts on 10 different frequencies in an attempt to get round the censorship, but they are all systematically jammed by diffuse noise or music. The authorities recently installed new jamming towers in Pemba (in the Chamdo region) and since then residents have been unable to get Voice of America.
RSF says the authorities have distributed new radio sets to the population in the Kardze region on the grounds that they are of better quality than the old ones. But they are preset and blocked on to a fixed bandwidth and cannot be tuned into international stations.
(Radio Netherlands Media Network 5.7.2005)

A broader survey is now available at:
Biener, Hansjoerg: Broadcasting to Tibet,
in: *Central  Asian Survey 21,2002,4, p. 417 - 422. (ISSN 0263-4937) Carfax Publishing

[1] Mission Network News programme 4 April 2001
[2] 15 July 2001

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