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Rural Tibetans owe billions of yuan under forced resettlement

October 18, 2009

China said it will resettle this year 330,000
more Tibetan farmers and herdsmen under its
controversial new socialist villages project,
bringing to 1.2 million the number of such people
resettled thus by the end of this year. The
resettlement for this year is being carried out
with a special government fund of 59,700 yuan,
reported China’s online Tibet news service Oct 14, a measly amount of 0.18 yuan
per head, unless there’s a clerical error here.

But then, one reason why the project is so
controversial is because it debt-burdens the poor
rural Tibetans who can never hope to repay the
loans they are forced to take for the building of
the new homes, for which the government provides
only a measly subsidy. The report said that loans
totalling about three billion yuan were granted
to rural Tibetans between January and September this year.

The idea is to make Tibetans live in visually
attractive roadside clusters of buildings both
for visitors’ appreciation and for ease of social
and political control even though the quality of
the buildings may be, in fact, substandard.

Other controversies include the resettlement
being compulsory, forcing Tibetans to relocate by
giving up their original homes even if they may
have built them only recently at huge expenses.

The socialist village project was begun in 2006
and envisaged the building of houses for 220,000
households to resettle 80 per cent of the Tibet
Autonomous Region’s rural population in five
years. Till 2008, some 172,000 households of
870,000 rural Tibetans had been moved into new houses, the report said.
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