(TibetanReview.net, Dec 29) — A total of 860,000 farmers and herders from 170,000 families in the Tibet Autonomous Region have moved into the new houses under a government ordered 2006-10 socialist village project, with 312,000 farmers and herders from 57,800 families having been moved in 2008, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 27. The project postulates 220,000 families, ie, 80 percent of the TAR’s farmers and herders, moving into such, mostly roadside, rural housing clusters by 2010. This would mean that over 63 percent of farmers and herders have already been moved.
The government provide some subsidy for the Tibetans who have to contribute the bulk of cost of the building either by themselves or through loans provided by bank under government orders. Critics have contended that most of the rural Tibetans, being desperately poor, could never hope to repay the loans.
The houses look neat and colourful from outside, making them spectacular tourist sights, but are said to be poorly built with minimal of facilities.
While critics contend that the new housing is designed to boost China’s image in Tibet largely at the Tibetan people’s expenses, while also enabling exercise of better government controls over them. Chinese officials maintain that the project was launched to improve the Tibetans’ living conditions, as well as for the sake of ecological conservation in nature reserves.
As in almost all Chinese government schemes, rural Tibetans had no choice but to comply with the order to relocate. For the better-off farmers, the new housing has been reported to result in the worsening of their living conditions.