China to build Hydropower Dam, Forcibly Seizes Tibetan Farmers’ Land

Foreign Affairs

Lhasa: The situation in Tibet continues to raise concerns, with ongoing uncertainty about China’s intentions as authorities are forcibly seizing property from Tibetan farmers in Rebgong County, Qinghai Province, with an excuse to construct a hydropower dam, according to media reports.

The reports said locals have been warned to cooperate and abandon their land, with the threat that their compensation will be withheld for those who refuse to give their land. The order was issued on May 23, 2023, by Langya village authorities, which are roughly an hour’s drive from Rebgong. It required seven villages in the area to relocate so that the Chinese government could start the first phase of construction ten days after the notice was issued.

This dam is one of the major initiatives of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan and has a total area of 4.58 million square metres and will cost Yuan 245 million to build.

Rebgong, also called Tongren in Chinese, is a Tibetan-populated area of the Qinghai province of China. It is situated in Malho, sometimes called Huangnan. The reservoir region of the project is home to the Tibetan settlements Shu-Ong-Kye, Shu-Ong-Nyi-tha, Langya, Malpa-Jam, Malpa-Kharnang-Kharshi, and Malpa-Chauwo. It is predicted that the development of the reservoir would start soon. According to these reports, peasants would be compelled to move to towns and cities in search of temporary employment if local officials seized their property.

The policy of rural urbanisation, the forcible relocating of Tibetan nomads and farmers to urban areas, and the ongoing settling of considerable numbers of Han Chinese in Tibet are all examples of China’s efforts to compel the incorporation of Tibetan minorities into the Han-Chinese-dominated majority.

Chinese infrastructure and development projects in Tibet have led to frequent clashes with Tibetans, who accuse Chinese firms and local officials of improperly confiscating land and disrupting the lives of local people, Tibet Press reported.

This issue is not new and traces back to China’s invasion of Tibet in 1951, resulting in a continuous deterioration of Tibetan lives. Ever since the protests in 2008, more than 150 Tibetan monks have self-immolated. The torture, mistreatment and deaths of thousands from Chinese state repression have resulted in repercussions that are felt even today.

The cultural and ethnic identity of Tibet is being erased systematically by China.

Today, relatives of Tibetan protestors are routinely harassed, thrown into prison for “re-education” denied political and medical rights, and even killed if deemed to be a threat. The treatment of nomadic herders who lived in Tibet has been even worse. More than a million nomads have been forced to leave the grasslands with a ridiculous plea that this move is meant to protect the ecology of the grasslands, Tibet Press reported.

Following President Xi Jinping’s directive to improve security in the region, various organs of the Chinese state including, the Public Security Bureau, the State Security Bureau, the United Front Work Department, the Religious Affairs Bureau, the TAR Internet Affairs Office, and the Internet Management Department jumped to establish political achievements. There is no authentic information about the extent of secret trials being conducted in the region, the media reports said.

With the introduction of cash rewards for spilling the beans on ‘dissidents, cadres at every level of government are making the lives of remaining Tibetans in the region even more difficult. A recent Freedom House report lists Tibet as the worst country to live in the world. Another feature of Chinese rule in Tibet is the political re-education camps.

There is a massive database of Tibetans in the region wherein anyone affiliated with dissidents is deprived of political rights and access to jobs and healthcare.

Tibet is one of the issues that China remains sensitive about globally. This translates in practice to the United Front Works Department (UFWD) which operates to subvert opposition to the CCP, both within China and overseas.

According to UN sources, more than 23 Chinese NGOs have falsified data in the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) to defend China’s track record of breaking international treaties and covenants it is party to. The ‘rule of law’ is noticeably absent in China, where there was the infamous 709 crackdown against more than 300 lawyers, paralegals and assistants, the media report said.