China has recruited local Tibetans in new militia units raised by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Chumbi valley. Chumbi Valley is an area between Sikkim and Bhutan and part of the Tibetan plateau. Administratively it is part of the Yadong County in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
The name of the militia is Mimang Cheton, which means “for the public” in Tibetan, with the aim being to use their information and skills in border areas. China has roped in the Tibetans as they are better informed about local topography and language. Sources say the Chinese also believe the Indian troops would treat Tibetans in the PLA with less hostility at some critical junctures of war.
The media has learnt that 200 Tibetans have completed training and are currently deployed in various locations in the valley like — Yutung, Cheema, Rinchengang, PB Thang and Phari. Another batch is being trained in the Phari area in the valley. The training is imparted by PLA and currently, the personnel do not have uniform nor ranks.
Usually, China as a policy is not keen on raising units in its forces based on ethnicity. The long-standing policy hold with few exceptions starting to emerge. Tibet seems to see other developments as well including new drills.
The new development comes amid Chinese aggressive actions with India at the Line of actual control in Western Ladakh. The over year-long stand continues even though in February under a pact Pangong lake saw disengagement. Last year the Galwan incident saw the death of 20 Indian soldiers due to Chinese actions.
The training of young Tibetans by the PLA followed the clashes between India and China in May last year following the Chinese army’s intent to take control of strategic heights south of Pangong Tso.
India has been deploying people of Tibetan origin for its elite yet secret Special Frontier Force (SFF) for decades. The SFF came to the limelight after it made countermoves against the PLA during last year’s brawl in eastern Ladakh.
The standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies was one of the worst in 45 years, following which the two sides engaged in at least 11 rounds of talks for the disengagement process.
A year after the Galwan clashes, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar clarified that the progress of Indo-China relations depends on whether China lives up to its written commitments about not deploying a large armed force along the LoAC in Ladakh.
In response to Jaishankar’s statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that India and China should address the boundary issue through peaceful negotiations without linking it to bilateral ties.