Shut-Down of Widely Used Language Video-Sharing App “GangYang” Across the TAR

Shut-Down of Widely Used Language Video-Sharing App “GangYang” Across the TAR
Barkhor street, Lhasa, Tibet, 拉萨, 西藏. Source: cattan2011/Flickr, 2017.

Fleur Harmsen


Tibet and Human Rights Researcher,


Global Human Rights Defence.


Popular Tibetan language video-sharing app “GangYang” was abruptly shut down on the 10th of November in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The reason behind the shut-down is suspected to come from pressures from the Chinese government (Tibetan Review, 2022).

The promotion of the national language, Mandarin Chinese, plays a significant role in the sinicisation policies across ethnic minority regions, as teaching, learning and use of local languages has been systematically marginalised (Tibetan Review, 2022). 

The app was used to record videos, livestream and online shopping. It was launched in 2018 with the permission of the Chinese authorities. As the app was shut-down, the notice of closure from the owner reiterated the importances of preserving the Tibetan language, while also explaining that he had no choice but to close the app due to financial constraints (Kunchok 2022). 

The shut-down of the app, if down under Chinese coercion, clearly violates international human rights law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that all individuals have the right to privacy, family, home and correspondence under article 12. The latter underlines that no State shall interfere with the way in which any individual or group of peoples, maintains their correspondence or interacts with each other, regardless of borders nor what they post on social media. Individuals, according to the UDHR are free to use their online platforms in the way they please to do so, as long as there is no direct threat to the State. 

In addition, article 27 of the UDHR writes that all individuals are free to participate in the cultural life of the community in the way that individual pleases to do so. In this regard, disallowing individuals from engaging in an app that engages and pursues Tibetan cultural heritage violates this right. 

Lastly, all peoples have the right to self determination, underlining that all individuals and groups of people have the freedom to pursue their social and cultural development in the way they please. In a time of internet freedoms and the development of language and cultural apps, forcibly shutting down an app that celebrates a minority culture goes against the right to self determination, a jus cogens principle of international law.

Sources and further reading:

Kunchok, S. (2022, Novembre 15). Popular Tibetan video-sharing app to be shut down. Retrieved November, 16, 2022 from 

Tibetan Review. (2022, Novembre 16). Sinicization drive suspected to be behind Tibetan video-sharing app’s shutdown. Retrieved November, 16, 2022 from