Chinese authorities have announced plan to forcibly confiscate lands of eight Tibetan villages to build a reservoir in Lingya village (Tib: གླིང་རྒྱ་སྡེ་བ།, Ch: Langjia) in Rebgong County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province. An official notice warns that compensation would not be paid to anyone acting against the authority’s order.
According to the notice, issued on 23 May 2023, the total area for reservoir construction spans 175,005 acres, beginning from the upper northeast of Lingya village to the lower northeast of Maypa Khagya village (Tib:སྨད་པ་ཁ་རྒྱ་སྡེ་བ།). It is planned to be built on the Lingya River, which flows into Machu.
A source told Tibet Watch: “Rebgong County government forcibly confiscates lands [agricultural and nomadic lands] of Tibetans. We have no other facility or source of livelihood except looking for temporary jobs in Chinese towns and cities.”
Depopulation of Tibetan nomads and farmers from their ancestral lands and loss of livelihoods has been a long-standing, systemic issue under the ruling Chinese government, which has stated that the reservoir project is part of its socio-economic strategy under its 13th Five-Year Plan. The notice requires the project to begin within 10 days of its issue.
Having known the impact of past, large-scale construction of other reservoirs, railway, and hydroelectric projects in nearby villages, the same source shared a wider concern: of survival, both as a Tibetan and as a job seeker in the cities: “Under China’s rural urbanisation (Ch:农村城镇化), Tibetan nomads and farmers have both been forcibly relocated in urban areas, where large numbers of Han Chinese continually immigrate. What is very clear is the forced assimilation of Tibetan minority identity into the dominant Han-Chinese majority.”
Tibet Watch also obtained a poem written by a poet from Rebgong that speaks to the disturbance caused by these policies to Tibetans’ way of life:
took away the harvest I sowed
My fields too, seized off
crushed and took away the Buddha statue I built
My house too, uprooted
I shall neither die nor lose courage
I am the flowing river of a thousand years
And I have to, rejuvenate the souls of flowers and birds”
Information supplied by Tibet Watch