China reported to have increased recruiting Tibetans for border security tasks, even seeking monks’ blessings for their units

A PLA unit based in Tibet near the China-India border which took part in a recent military exercise in the Himalayas has been praised by President Xi Jinping. (Photo courtesy: SCMP)

(, Sep30’21) – China has rapidly increased the number of Tibetans it recruits for new units for military and other security duties along occupied Tibet’s border with India, reported Sep 29, following its previous report on Dec 5, 2020. And in order to encourage and gain support from local Tibetans in the effort, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is even getting the new units made up of Tibetan recruits blessed by local Tibetan monks, the report said.

The report said four new types of units made up of Tibetan recruits had been set up. One is the Special Tibetan Army Units (STAU), made up of recruits from western Tibet, taking advantage of their born high-altitude adaptation. “They have even asked Tibetan monks to bless the units in an effort to get more support,” the report said. 

Another type is Yuma, meaning local militia, units of Tibetan soldiers to guard the Indo-Tibetan borders. It was said to have been conceived a decade ago and to be made up of retired PLA personnel.

China was said to be trying to set up other Yalmuk units as well, made up of ethnic Tibetans for deployment in high-altitude areas.

Yet another type of unit is what is called Mimang Cheton Militia, made up of recruits with basic training and deployed in the Chumbi valley for their knowledge of the local terrain. The valley is located close to occupied Tibet’s border with Bhutan and the Indian state of Sikkim.

The report said one big reason for the drive was Tibet’s high altitude and inhospitable location. Recruiting Tibetans who are used to the high altitude and the bitter cold means having fewer PLA soldiers who are from the eastern part of China, which are near the sea and low-altitude areas, the report noted.

During the Ladakh faceoff, a large number of Chinese soldiers, posted in areas above 15,000 feet, had fallen ill with high altitude sickness, it said.


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