China is giving military-style training to children between 8 to 16 years old in Nyingchi (Tibet) as part of the “Military Summer Camp” named Snow Eagle. These children may be recruited into the regular People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the future. The children are being trained on similar lines to regular soldiers. Intel suggests that Tibetans are being trained to help PLA control Tibet as a plan when the changeover of Dalai Lama takes place. China does not want to antagonize Tibetans with regular PLA regiments as it fears that it might fuel the independence struggle.
PLA realized the need for Tibetan soldiers
After military tensions with India last year, the Chinese military realized that its soldiers were unable to stand up to Ladakhi or Tibetan soldiers joining the Indian Army. Soldiers from far-off places of China are finding it very difficult to live and work in the high areas of Ladakh and Tibet.
The ongoing border dispute with India since May 2020, the bloody skirmish in Galwan, and the Indian Army’s capture of the Kailash range in eastern Ladakh in the first week of September have forced the Chinese army to change its thinking. 70 years after the occupation of Tibet, now the Chinese are not only recruiting Tibetans into their army but also catching young kids to train them as PLA soldiers.
Before the start of these children’s training camps, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had deployed the first set of troops of the newly raised Tibetan unit, the Special Tibetan Army Unit (STAU), in the strategically important Chumbi Valley between Sikkim and Bhutan.
Tibetan Monks blessing the recruits
The Tibetans who are recruited in the Special Tibetan Army Unit (STAU) (a new unit recently raised purely of troops from Tibetan ethnicity by PLA) are taken to Tibetan Monks after completion of their training for their blessings.
Previously there was no such practice of taking Tibetan recruits to Tibetan Monks for their blessings. This is likely a new strategy of PLA to get some religious mileage from the newly recruited Tibetans in STAU.
Raising of Mimang Cheton Militia by PLA
PLA has raised a new set of Militias in the Chumbi valley under Yatung Country in TAR. The said Militia is known as ‘Mimang Cheton’ (MC), which probably means “for the Public” in the Tibetan language.
The MC consists of local Tibetan youths who are imparted training by the PLA. It is learned that two batches of MC with around 100 youths in one batch have already completed their training and are currently deployed at various locations in Chumbi valley viz Yutung, Cheema, Rinchengang, PB Thang, and Phari.
The second batch of MC is currently undergoing training at their training facility at Phari. The MC is raised with the aim of being deployed mostly in the local bordering areas to exploit their knowledge of the local terrain, language, demography, and weather conditions. Currently, MC personnel have neither uniform nor ranks.
Camps for Tibetan youth this year
The Chinese army has organized many recruitment rallies in the areas near the LAC of Tibet, India. In September last year, the Special Frontier Force of the Indian Army formed from Tibetan youth was among the soldiers who snatched important peaks from the hands of Chinese soldiers.