This policy is similar to the program implemented in Xinjiang, assimilated by human rights organizations.
Reuters writes that it has examined more than 100 articles published by the state press, official documents issued by Tibet regional authorities and public orders issued from 2016 to 2020, which show that Beijing has set quotas for the mass transfer of rural workers within the region. from the Himalayas or to other regions of China.
More than half a million people have been trained in this project in the first seven months of 2020 – representing almost 15% of the region’s population, according to a note published last month on the Tibetan regional government’s website.
Of this total, nearly 50,000 workers were transferred to Tibet, and several thousand more were sent to other regions. Many of them have paid jobs below market levels – especially in the textile, construction and agricultural sectors.
“Correcting the way of thinking”
Reuters writes that the documents it examined place a strong emphasis on ideological education in order to correct workers’ “concepts of thinking.”
“They show that minorities are undisciplined, that their mood must be changed, that they must be persuaded to participate,” said Adrian Zenz, an independent researcher on Tibet and Xinjiang, who compiled the main findings of the program.
These findings are set out in a report released this week by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based institute specializing in political issues of strategic importance to the United States.
“It’s about a coercive change in the way of life, about the transition from Normanism and agriculture to wage labor.”
“From my point of view, this is the strongest, clearest and most targeted attack on the traditional means of subsistence of Tibetans that we have seen since the Cultural Revolution” of 1966-1976, estimates Adrian Zenz.
Rural workers transferred to these vocational training centers receive an ideological education – what China calls “military-style” training – based on strict discipline, through exercise and wearing a military uniform.
They acquire professional skills in textiles, construction, agriculture and ethnic crafts.
One of the centers mentions “mandarin, legal training and political education” among the teachings.
Another regional administrative document states that the goal is to “gradually make the transition from” I have to work “to” I want to work “.
About 70% of Tibet’s population lives in rural areas, according to 2018 data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, and the country is committed to eradicating rural poverty by the end of 2020.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly denies, in a statement to Reuters, the use of forced labor, giving assurances that China is a rule of law and that workers are volunteers and paid properly.
What these people with hidden motivations call “forced labor” simply does not exist. We hope that the members of the international community will distinguish good from evil, that they will respect the facts and that they will not be deceived by lies “, Beijing insists.
Xinjiang and Tibet have been targeted by restrictive policies in recent years as part of what Chinese authorities call “maintaining stability.”
These policies aim to suppress dissent, unrest or separatism, restrict the movement of people from these regions to other parts of China or abroad, and strengthen control over religious activities.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in August that China would intensify its efforts against separatism in Tibet – where Tibetans make up about 90 percent of the population, according to the census.
This program is growing as international pressure grows against similar projects in Xinjiang, where some of these projects include mass detention centers.
The UN estimates in a report that about one million people in Xinjiang, mostly Uighurs, are imprisoned in camps and subjected to ideological education.
China first denied the existence of these camps, but later announced that they were vocational training and education centers and that all people there had “obtained a diploma”.
Reuters writes that it has not been able to verify the living conditions of the transferred Tibetan workers, in the context in which foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the region.