(TibetanReview.net, Nov14’21) – With Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recruits being not up to the challenges of the harsh Himalayan climatic conditions and altitude, China has launched a compulsory recruitment drive for local Tibetans in Chumbi Valley of occupied Tibet near the borders of Bhutan and the Indian state of Sikkim, according to the IANS new service Nov 13.
Citing Indian intelligence reports, the report said one youngster from each household was being conscripted into the PLA.
These recruits, divided into groups of 30, are said to be taken to the PLA training facility in Nagchu City in northern Tibet Autonomous Region. The training curriculum is stated to include physical training, drill and maintenance of the accommodation and training areas.
“The new recruits are reportedly being paid 1,700 yuan as monthly stipend,” the report quoted an Indian official as saying.
The trainees are said to be allowed to make one short-duration phone call to their families back home from their mobile phones deposited in the training centre. It was not clear how frequently.
Chumbi Valley is a 100 km, dagger-shaped projection of occupied Tibet’s territory between Sikkim and Bhutan. And from this dagger’s point, Bangladesh is stated to be just around 100 km away. This 100 km stretch is part of India’s Siliguri Corridor.
China can use this strategic territorial configuration to choke India’s vital lines of transportation and communication running through the Siliguri Corridor to the Northeast region, the report noted.
The Siliguri Corridor, which borders Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, measures approximately 170×60 km; at the narrowest, it is said to be only about 20-22 km.
“So any development in the region is highly important to India,” a senior Indian government official has said, adding that the conscription of locals into the PLA was a rare phenomenon.