(TibetanReview.net, Jul14, 2017) – China’s Foreign Ministry has claimed Jul 12 that there had not been and will not be any forced relocations from a high-altitude plateau in a heavily Tibetan area that was granted World Heritage Status by the United Nations on Jul 7 after concern was raised about it by Tibetan and Tibet advocacy groups. “The awarding of world heritage status by the UN cultural organization last week represented the international community’s ‘full approval’ of the government’s success at protecting Hoh Xil’s environment,” Reuters quoted the ministry as saying in a statement sent to it.
The ministry has further said the Chinese government’s application documents for the status for the site showed its resolve to fully respect the wishes, traditional culture, religious beliefs and lifestyles of the nomadic people who live there. “The Chinese government has not, is not and will not in the future do any forced evictions in the Hoh Xil nominated area,” it was quoted as saying.
Unfortunately, forced relocation of Tibetan nomads from their centuries-old traditional grassland homes is a well established fact, as evident from a number of reports of human rights groups as well as scientific researchers. China has kept responding by claiming in all these cases that everything had been done voluntarily and for the supposed good of the affected nomadic communities. But these relocations have thrown the life of the nomadic communities into disarray, leaving them without any proper or sustainable source of livelihood, with some of them facing eviction even from the places where they had been relocated.
The UNESCO approved China’s nomination of the Hoh Xil (or Kekeshili) nature reserve located in Yulshul (Chinese: Yushu) Prefecture of Qinghai Province as a World Heritage Site during the Jul 7 session of its World Heritage Committee in the Polish city of Krakow. The approval came despite strong representations made by Tibet advocacy groups on the basis of China’s existing record on the forced relocation of Tibetan nomads whose way of life is itself an important global cultural heritage. These groups have argued that the UNESCO designation would allow Chinese authorities to remove residents from the area and threaten its environment and nomadic culture.
China’s Foreign Ministry has claimed that Qinghai government regulations and plans also include no requirements for forced relations. But this is obviously to be understood in the context of China’s claim that no force was used in the in fact highly coerced resettlement of the Tibetan nomads that have taken on a massive scale in the past several years.