China Forcibly Moving Tibetans to Border as Its ‘Border Vanguards’

The Chinese government has announced plans to relocate (forcibly) more
than 100,000 Tibetans from their homes on the Tibetan Plateau by 2030.
The new measures are part of larger strategy, launched in 2018 by the Tibet
Autonomous Region (TAR) Communist Party Committee, designed to
relocate the Tibetans living in very high altitude regions throughout Tibet,
defined as 4,800 meters high or above under its so called ‘very high-altitude
ecological relocation plan’.
The relocation plan envisages the ‘displacement’ of 130,000 people from 20
counties and 97 townships from the Autonomous Prefectures of Shigatse
(Rikaze), Nagchu and Ngari (Ali) in the TAR, to be carried out during 2018
and 2025. More than 100,000 of the 130,000 Tibetans will be re-settled along
the Yarlung Tsangpo River with plans to develop a core economic zone with
industrial corridors along the river.
The first relocation site established under the 2018 Plan has been located in
Gachong village, Gurum (Gurong) township, Toelung Dechen (Duilong
Deqing) District, Lhasa prefectural city. According to Xinhua news report
(October 21, 2020), 1102 residents were relocated from Gurum Township
Jialing Jiadong Village, Rungma (Rongma Township), Nima County in
Nagchu prefecture in the Jangthang (Qiangtang) Nature Reserve area.
In the recent times, the Chinese government has been implementing to
relocate 26,304 people mostly from Tsonyi County, Amod County and Nyima
County to Lhoka prefecture within the TAR. According to the Chinese state
media outlet Xinhua in Aug 2022, about 17,555 Tibetans from Nagqu city
(North East of Tibet) – which has more than 1000 towns and villages are
relocating to Sinburi (Senburi) village, Gongkar (Gongga) County, Lhoka in
southern Tibet. Lhoka (Shannan), with the relocation destination of the
population about 400 km away from their home.
Notably, in the past Chinese authorities have came out to implement its
relocation policies with different nomenclatures such as ‘ecological
migration’, ‘poverty alleviation’ and in this case ‘very high altitude ecological
relocation’, implying that there is no coherent goal other than using these
terms as a pretext to achieve population control. This ‘very high altitude
relocation plan’ notable targets all individuals – nomads, herdsmen and
farmers – regardless of whether they live in existing homes.
Bigger Picture
However, the Chinese government’s explanation of their relocation plans is
not as simplistic and scientific since, no information provided it does not
become clear why there has been forcible relocation of Tibetans has been
undertaken to push them into completely alien way of life. Contrary to claims
by the Chinese authorities that their move is to conserve environment, there
is no scientific evidence as how relocation would have positive impact on
environment. However, the actual reason is therefore to end of the traditional
Tibetan way of life. Notably, Tibetans in these regions have been nomads
for generations who have been living ‘cordially with the nature’ high on the
Tibetan Plateau for centuries. It is estimated that the forced relocation and
settlement would lead to displacement of about 2 million Tibetan nomads,
who would lose their livelihood and pushed into, poverty and get
Therefore, under the so-called ‘Poverty Alleviation’, ‘Ecological Migration’
and now the ‘Very High Altitude Ecological Migration’ plans, more and more
settled Tibetans lives are being uprooted and instantly altered to achieve
central government plans to dilute Tibetans identity, control and finally
enforce their assimilation into the Chinese cultural and economic world.
It is therefore important to understand the Chinese hidden objective of these
policies due to its strategic importance for Tibet and its neighborhood,
especially India. This is in context of Chinese strategy of forced mass
relocation of Tibetans, from different parts of Tibet to Lhoka, is aimed at
strengthening the ‘Border Defense Villages’ or ‘Xiokang Villages’ which is
Beijing’s way of ‘Military-Civil Fusion (MCF)’.
Military Civil Fusion
The relocation of Tibetans is part of China’s design for MCF, aimed at
spurring innovation in key sectors and leveraging dual-use technologies for
military end-uses. China, which practices what, is called “Civil-Military
Integration (CMI)’ sees MCF as a strategy to use civilians and dual-use
technologies and facilitates for its national defense. Under this strategy, the
Chinese government has been training civilian and military personnel ‘to
achieve an organic, powerful, and comprehensive national system of
strategies’. The first authoritative reference to MCF as a guiding principle
appeared in former Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s report to the 17th Party
Congress in 2007, in which he urged the country ‘to take a path of militarycivilian fusion with Chinese characteristics’. Eight years later, the Central
Military Commission under Xi Jinping’s leadership codified MCF as an official
military strategy, which connoted an intensified push to innovate and
advance implementation of MCF.
New Artificial Villages near border
China is aggressively constructing new villages in disputed border areas to
extend or consolidate its control over these areas that India, Bhutan and
Nepal maintain to be within their national territories. Since 2015, a previously
unnoticed network of roads, buildings and military outposts has been
constructed in Bhutan. In October 2015, China announced that a new village,
called Gyalaphug in Tibetan or Jieluobu in Chinese, had been established in
the South of TAR. Gyalaphug is now one of three new villages of which two
are already occupied and one is under construction. The development of the
area include, 66 miles of new roads, a small hydropower station, two
Communist Party administrative centers, communication base, a disaster
relief warehouse, five military or police outposts, satellite receiving station,
military base and up to six security sites & outposts. China claims this to be
part of Tibet but this is in Bhutan.
Besides, as per a recent report in Hong Kong based ‘South China Morning
Post’, quoting Chinese government document, China intends to build 624
border villages in disputed Himalayan areas. This new construction is part of
a major drive by Chinese President Xi Jinping, since 2017, to fortify the
Tibetan borderlands, a dramatic escalation to intimidate its neighbors along
Himalayan frontiers. This militarized village-building spree highlights Xi’s
expansionist strategy at a time.
In conclusion, forced relocation policy of China should be understood as
larger MCF strategy as well as a strategy to wipe out the Tibetan identity,
culture, and way of life by giving Chinese re-education and military training
for Tibetans. Under this strategy, China conceived its border-village
programe after call made by President Xi, in 2017, to Tibetan herdsmen to
settle in frontier areas and “become guardians of Chinese territory.” Xi said
in his appeal that, “without peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful
lives for millions of families.”
In the name of “poverty alleviation,” the Communist Party of China (CPC) is
uprooting Tibetan nomads and forcing them to settle in artificial new border
villages in isolated, high-altitude areas. Creating a dispute where none
previously existed is usually China’s first step toward asserting a territorial
claim, before it furtively tries to seize the coveted area. Xi’s regime frequently
uses civilian militias in the vanguard of such a strategy. The CPC has also
sent ethnic Han Chinese Party members to such villages to serve as resident
overseers. China’s newly built border villages in the Himalayas are the
equivalent of its artificially created islands in the South China Sea, whose
geopolitical map Xi’s regime has redrawn without firing a shot.

News Desk

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