Relocation of Tibetan Nomads Still Continues

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Tibetan refugee monks in a debate session at a monastery in Bylauppe, India.
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Thesis Table of Contents:

Part I- Introduction

Part II- History of Arunachal Pradesh Tribals

Part III- History of Tibetan Nomads

Part IV- Early Development of Arunachal    Pradesh Tribals

Part V- Recent Developments in Arunachal Pradesh

Part VI- Early Development of Tibetan Nomads

Part VII- Recent Developments in Tibet

Part VIII- Conclusion

Part IX- Bibliography


Relocation of Tibetan Nomads Still Continues

Restructuring of Tibetan Communities still continues:

"Tibetan nomads have remained until now beyond the reach of the state, to an extent, and the Chinese government doesn't like that."
Kate Saunders, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Campaign for Tibet.

“Signs trumpeting “Tibet Power” refer strictly to the Chinese electricity company.”1

It is difficult to find a Westerner who does not intuitively support the idea of a free Tibet. But would Americans ever let go of Texas or California?”2

At present, the realities of coercive power clearly limit the immediate prospects of advocates of greater Tibetan self-rule or independence.”3

The struggle continues for the sectors of the Tibetan population that have resisted governmental intervention to remain nomadic or, at least, pastoralist. In response to uprisings across the Chinese government that extended across the entire region of Tibet in 2007, Beijing is again resorting to hard-handed tactics to cut out the tradition behind the lives of the modern nomads. A Washington Posts article states that, “Now a culture that embodies Tibetan identity is at risk. Following the deadly protests against Chinese rule this spring that started in Lhasa, Tibet's capital, and radiated out to several western provinces on the Himalayan plateau, China's rulers are tightening political controls across the Tibetan regions, including stepping up the government-directed relocation of nomads.”4

Written and researched by Wade Shepard of
Senior Thesis, Friends World Program, Long Island University
Travelogue -- Travel Photos -- Travel Guide
Thesis Contents: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “Many Tibetan herders have been required to slaughter most of their livestock and move into newly built housing colonies in or near towns, abandoning their traditional way of life,"5 as the problem of restructuring nomad communities still exists today. “Human Rights Watch said the resettlements in Tibet and in adjacent ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces are linked to the effort, launched in 1999, to develop China's poor, restive west and bind it to the bustling east. . . The resettlements began in 2000 and have taken place more intensively since 2003,” the report continues, "Many Tibetan agricultural communities have had their land confiscated, with minimal compensation, or have been evicted to make way for mining, infrastructure projects or urban development,".6

According to Maureen Fan, a Washington Post Foreign Service Correspondent, Tibetan Nomad communities are still being restructured as late as 2007, as a new Chinese organized intentional community ominously named, Nomads' New Village, recently opened its doors to forcibly relocated Tibetans in Gansu Province. Hundreds of thousands of small brick houses have been offered up to resettle Tibetans who have remained nomadic. “The government's effort to control an itinerant population of more than 2 million of its citizens is billed as a plan to improve the nomads' living standards and to protect rivers and grasslands from overgrazing. But it is also an increasingly important tool to contain Tibetans and counter the influence of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.”
“The "peace and contentment" that nomads derive from improved housing is the fundamental condition for us in holding the initiative in the struggle against the Dalai clique," Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party secretary for Tibet, wrote in a party journal earlier this year,” the article states, demonstrating the typical Chinese view of the Tibet situation.
7 The article continues to provide an impression of the restructuring process and its aftereffects:8

Settlement policies vary, and their effect on the social fabric of nomadic communities is complex. In many places, nomads have been encouraged to give up their animals, leading to reduced incomes, a rise in alcoholism and other social costs. A lack of planning has resulted in some settlements lacking water or power, officials admit. In many cases, nomads are ill-equipped to compete with Chinese migrant workers for jobs in nearby cities, and there has been insufficient retraining, experts said.

The government has relocated hundreds of thousands of nomads in towns and cities in recent years, drawing them with government-subsidized housing and other incentives. In Qinghai, officials have settled about 100,000 families, almost half the Tibetan population in that province, experts have said. In Tibet, officials said last year they would spend $80 million to settle most of its nomads by 2009.

The traditional sectors of the Tibetan region still remain in flux, as the Chinese continue policies of economic and cultural assimilation. “Optimally, Beijing hopes to win over sufficient followers among the local people to ensure control without large outside Chinese government presence.”9 Though there is another side to this coin: on the heels of Chinese policy comes infrastructure improvements, schooling, and, to an extent, different social and economic opportunities for Tibetans who move into settlements.

Although these Chinese “reforms” were, and continue to be, highly intrusive, many of the Tibetan Nomads have endured the imperialist onslaught and continue on with their traditional ways of life in accordance with the laws of spirituality and nature. The confrontational resettlement/ re-education methods of Chinese government seemed to have produced an ideological backlash in many Tibetan communities, as traditional ways are being held onto with increased vigor by the young generations of Tibetans. The harsh realities of the Chinese occupation of Tibet has also been a black mark on the name of the PRC throughout the world. Many governments have even spoken out about the administration of Tibet and, “Beijing leaders have been forced by public opinion and leaders in the West to be more accountable about the human rights situation in the TAR.”10

The Nomads of Tibet still migrate with their herds in conjunction with the cycles of the mountains and the heavens, living out the very roll of life in migration. Their ways are ancient and their practices have been carved and etched by the demands of their high altitude home. Through the Nomads of Tibet one can procure a glimpse of life before civilization, before anthropocentrism- before time. May summer always give way to winter, may living always give way to dying, may the roots of what is human never be severed from our holy source, may there always be those who know the rounds of life, may the ways of the Nomad always remain ancient, precarious- ungraspable.
Thesis Contents: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


1Parag Khanna. The Second World (New York: Random House, 2008). 80

2Parag Khanna. The Second World (New York: Random House, 2008). 78.

3Debra E. Soled, editor. China: A Nation in Transition (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995). 304.

4Fan, Maureen. For China's Nomads Relocation Proves a Mixed Blessing. Washington Post September 20, 2008.


7Fan, Maureen. For China's Nomads Relocation Proves a Mixed Blessing. Washington Post September 20, 2008.

8Fan, Maureen. For China's Nomads Relocation Proves a Mixed Blessing. Washington Post September 20, 2008.

9Debra E. Soled, editor. China: A Nation in Transition (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995). 302.

10Debra E. Solad, editor. China: A Nation in Transition (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995). 304.

Relocation of Tibetan Nomads Still Continues
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