China claims to have eliminated absolute poverty in ‘Tibet’, calls displacement of farmers and nomads voluntary

Tibetan nomads. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Oct16’20) – China said Oct 15 that it had accomplished the historical feat of eradicating absolute poverty in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). By the end of 2019, the region had lifted 628,000 people out of poverty and delisted 74 county-level areas from the poverty list, the official Xinhua news agency cited Wu Yingjie, the ethnic Chinese Communist Party of China chief of TAR, as saying at a press briefing in Lhasa, calling it a “major victory.”

A report on China’s rapid expansion of the labour programme in Tibet co-published by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) and released Sep 22 by the Jamestown Foundation exposed China’s policies coercing what was stated to be over half a million Tibetans into mass “vocational training”.

These Tibetans, who were uprooted from their traditional land and way of life, were put through a militarized vocational training system and then sent to work as low wage workers in factories across China, said the report, which was compiled by Dr Adrian Zenz, a German anthropologist and advisor to the IPAC. Zenz is a Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Wu has said the TAR’s “significant victory in poverty alleviation attested to the advantages of the socialist system on the plateau.”

“The elimination of absolute poverty in Tibet is a major achievement of China’s poverty alleviation campaign in the new era,” the report quoted a document released at the briefing as saying, noting that “the feat” had greatly enhanced the modernization drive in Tibet.

The report said authorities in TAR had made great efforts to relocate impoverished people living in severe natural conditions to areas with relatively rich production materials and better infrastructure. While such a claim may look great on paper and sound great in pronouncements, the bitter reality is that great many Tibetans lost their traditional pastoral and agricultural lands, with little or no alternative means to make a living in the new places to which they were coercively moved.

To date, the construction of 965 relocation sites had been completed, and 266,000 people had moved into new houses. “The relocation programs were entirely voluntary,” Wu has claimed.

Qizhala, chairman of the regional government of TAR, has told the press briefing that there were no forced vocational education and ensuing employment transfers for local farmers and herders.

He has claimed that local residents had strong desires to work outside their hometowns and to learn skills, that vocational education and skills training were popular among local farmers and herders, and that they could choose to work within TAR or in neighboring or other regions, making employment choices of their own free will.

The TAR makes up about half of what Tibetans consider to be their historical, sovereign homeland.


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