Excerpt from the full article published in The Economist:
"[Several] dozen officials from Beijing are wrapping up their three-year tour of duty in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. In early July a replacement team will arrive to carry on their work. Among those due to return to Beijing is Zhi Haijie, who is likely to be praised for setting up a new surveillance system in Lhasa.
It was launched in April 2012 in Lhasa’s Chengguan district, where Mr Zhi has been serving as deputy party chief. Officials call it the “grid system of social management”. One of its main aims is to make it easier for officials to monitor potential troublemakers by using intelligence gathered by community workers within areas known as grids (wangge in Mandarin). Chengguan, which includes most of the city proper and some of the rural area around it, has been divided into 175 of them. The grids’ small size (every Lhasa neighbourhood now has several) is intended to facilitate the gathering of detailed, real-time information.
Why bother? Lhasa is already crawling with security personnel and festooned with surveillance cameras. Even before the grid system any Tibetan who raised a protest banner would be leapt on within seconds and taken away (though few such attempts have been reported since security was increased after riots in 2008). But, mostly in the last two years, Tibetan protesters have taken to setting themselves on fire, which has made the authorities even edgier. Only two of about 120 of these acts have occurred in Lhasa but the capital’s religious importance to Tibetans makes any dissent there particularly potent."
The full article is available here.