Tibetan Farmland Seized For New Airport

2018-04-17
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A map showing the location of Lhatse county in Tibet's Shigatse prefecture.
A map showing the location of Lhatse county in Tibet's Shigatse prefecture.
RFA

Chinese authorities have seized farmland in southern Tibet to build an airport, displacing Tibetan villagers and offering far less in compensation than the land is worth, according to a Tibetan living in the area.

The land, belonging to Yushang village in the Chusha municipality of Shigatse prefecture’s Lhatse county, was targeted for development according to a plan announced in January by officials in the prefecture and the Tibet Autonomous Region, the source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“For Tibetans in Chusha, farming has been their main source of livelihood for many years, and is a tradition handed down to them by their ancestors,” the source said, adding that, “The loss of so much land to Chinese development projects is having a negative impact on the daily life of the local people.”

“Now Chinese authorities are planning to build an airport on [Chusha’s] farmland, and local Tibetans are being compensated at rates less than the land’s market value,” he said.

Chinese projects have already been under way on vast stretches of land lying near Lhatse county, with new buildings being constructed, for more than a decade, the source said.

“But there is now a promise of new airports and railway stations in all these areas, and these will form a hub of activities for tourists and transportation links in all directions,” he said.

China’s construction of airports and other development projects in Tibet have done little to lift Tibetans out of poverty and serve mainly to consolidate China’s presence on the Tibetan plateau, according to a researcher at the Dharamsala, India-based Tibet Policy Institute (TPI).

“Tibetans who are the owners of the land draw little benefit from these,” TIP researcher Rinzin Dorjee said in a 2016 paper, “China’s Transport and Infrastructural Build-Up in Tibet.”

“Primarily, the infrastructure build-up in Tibet is unilaterally decided and imposed by Beijing without the consent [of] or consultation with the Tibetan people.”

Reported by Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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Anonymous Reader

Your nomenclature for Tibet administrative bodies seems out of date. Shigatse, for example, is no longer a "prefecture 地区." There are only two prefectures left in the TAR today: Ngari and Nagchu.

Shigatse is now a large "municipality 市" controlling 17 "counties 县" and 1 "county-level district 区." The next level down are "rural townships 乡" and "urban townships 镇," sometimes also simply called "towns" if they happen to be designated as a county seat. Underneath these are "administrative villages 行政村," "natural villages 自然村," and mixed agricultural-pastoral zones 农牧场.
In the story above Chusha is an urban township on the outskirts of the county seat, Lhatse. Yushang is a natural village.

Shigatse became a municipality in July, 2014. Lhasa was first in 1960; Chamdo joined in October 2014; next was Nyingtri in April, 2015 and most recently Lhoka was upgraded in February 2016.I could explain why this is being done, but you are investigative journalists capable of doing your own digging if the topic is interesting enough.

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