AFTER XINJIANG, CHINA EXPANDS MASS LABOR PROGRAM IN TIBET
China is pushing growing numbers of Tibetan rural laborers off the land and into recently built military-style training centers where they are turned into factory workers, mirroring a program in the western Xinjiang region that rights groups have branded coercive labor, Cate Cadell reported for Reuters.
Beijing has set quotas for the mass transfer of rural laborers within Tibet and to other parts of China, according to more than 100 state media reports, policy documents from government bureaus in Tibet and procurement requests released between 2016-2020 and reviewed by Reuters. The quota effort marks a rapid expansion of an initiative designed to provide loyal workers for Chinese industry.
A notice posted to the website of Tibet’s regional government website last month said more than 500,000 people were trained as part of the project in the first seven months of 2020 - around 15% of the region’s population. Of this total, almost 50,000 have been transferred into jobs within Tibet, and several thousand have been sent to other parts of China. Many end up in low paid work, including textile manufacturing, construction and agriculture.
“This is now, in my opinion, the strongest, most clear and targeted attack on traditional Tibetan livelihoods that we have seen almost since the Cultural Revolution” of 1966 to 1976, said Adrian Zenz, an independent Tibet and Xinjiang researcher, who compiled the core findings about the program. These are detailed in a report released this week by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based institute that focuses on policy issues of strategic importance to the US. “It’s a coercive lifestyle change from nomadism and farming to wage labor.” Reuters corroborated Zenz’s findings and found additional policy documents, company reports, procurement filings and state media reports that describe the program. In a statement to Reuters, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly denied the involvement of forced labor, and said China is a country with rule of law and that workers are voluntary and properly compensated.
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