Respect for Tibetans in China still a far-fetched dream

Chinese Administration believes that Tibetan society was primitive, feudal and ruled by a handful of aristocrats. The aristocracy was increasingly becoming oppressive and the people of Tibet were being subjected to harsh punishments until the China liberated Tibet and Tibetans in the 1950s. Chinese government maintains that Tibet is an integral part of China and their administration never discriminates between Tibetans and Hans (the dominant ethnic group in China) politically, socially and economically. To further justify this stance, they have started focussing on major infrastructure development activities in Tibet area viz. laying/improvement of railway networks, dam sites, establishment of new PLA setups, residential facilities for troops and general public (who fulfils political, demographic and security criteria), flourishing of new villages, and excavation/exploration of minerals, including gold.

However, despite these efforts, incidents continue to be reported which refute the Chinese claims to reveal the prevalent discrimination being adopted between Han ethnic group and Tibetans. Tibetan youth are still unable to find employment in Chinese administration. They are reportedly engaged as low grade workers (electricians, drivers, mechanics, etc.) and often made to work in harsh terrain and adverse weather conditions viz. high altitude border areas. Their salaries are also low as compared to Han Chinese workers. Chinese officials continuously monitor their movements.

It is viewed that Chinese authorities are attempting to recruit more Tibetans in order to offset the disadvantages of posting ethnic Han soldiers at high altitudes, especially under the Western Theatre Command. They believe that the first responder troops at high altitudes need to be Tibetans, who can function effectively in areas with low oxygen.

The Senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership has undertaken multiple visits including the visit by President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping to Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The frequency of these trips signifies the emphasis laid by the Xi Jinping Government on Tibet, for further exploitation of natural/water resources, linkages with BRI and consolidation over disputed border areas. They may also be seen as part of Chinese Government’s strategic efforts to implement gradual sinicization of Tibet while overseeing progress of the various development projects implemented in the region to facilitate migration and upgrade military facilities.

In order to secure dominance over TAR, the CCP is working on policies aimed at altering the demography of the region. China’s National Strategic Project to Develop the West, introduced during the 1980s after the Cultural Revolution, encourages the migration of Chinese people from other regions of China into Tibet with bonuses and favourable living conditions. No doubt these policies have borne fruit for China. While Han Chinese constituted 8 percent of the population of TAR in the year 2010, the percentage rose to 12 in the Chinese census of 2020.

It is also reported that Chinese authorities have begun sending Tibetan children to special camps to be indoctrinated in a Sinicised worldview and given basic military training in order to prepare them to be inducted into militias. There are reports that some as young as eight or nine years have been sent to the indoctrination facilities. The indoctrination is also aimed at overcoming resistance within the local population to the PLA’s efforts to recruit more Tibetans. In December this year, the Tibet Action Institute issued a report that Chinese authorities in Tibet had set up a wide network of boarding schools for Tibetan children to separate them from parents, and reduce their exposure to their own language and culture.

It is estimated that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has coerced over half a million Tibetans into forced labour programs strewn into secret locations all across China. China’s rampant misinformation campaign and state sponsored distortion of historical truth has already brought the Tibetan civilization to the brink of extinction. The sinicization of Tibetan history, arts and culture is well underway. The world community must raise questions about human rights violations in Tibet and come together for the Tibetan cause.

News Desk

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