The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and local militias, as well as guides along the border, continue to be recruited by China as it consolidates its military positions and upgrades its airbases facing India, reports said. Several Indian security officials said on Wednesday that the latest intelligence reports also show China has even forced Tibetan families to send at least one male for recruitment into the PLA in some areas such as the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
According to top government officials, the Chinese Army has been recruiting Tibetan youth for special operations along the LAC with India, and they are holding regular training exercises to prepare them.
Sources said the Tibetan youth are inducted into the Chinese military after passing a series of loyalty tests that include learning the mainland Chinese language and accepting the supremacy of the Chinese Communist party over any other beliefs, such as following the Dalai Lama and other religious gurus. As India and China prepare for the 12th round of corps commander-level talks between the two countries, PLA recruitment of Tibetans and PLA activity along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control have increased.
‘More than 70 Tibetan students aged between 17 and 20 have also been recruited by the PLA to apply to the military academy in TAR this year. It is also enlisting Tibetans from border villages who have good topographical knowledge of the LAC to be guided to accompany its patrolling parties,’ said an official. At least two batches of Tibetan youths have been recruited for the militias, each batch comprising about 100 youths. Training with the PLA has led to the deployment of one batch among the communities of Yadong, Cheema, Rinchengang and Qinggang, PB Thang and Phari in Chumbi Valley.
When did it begin?
Induction began earlier this year after the Chinese witnessed how Tibetans-in-exile performed while serving in the Special Frontier Force (SFF) of the Indian Army. SFF is an Indian army unit that received training from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States after the 1962 war. Tibetans or Tibetans-in-exile comprise a significant portion of this force.
India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May last year, and there has been no resolution to deescalate tensions at the friction points, like Hot Springs-Gogra heights. Despite multiple rounds of talks between the Indian and Chinese sides at both military and diplomatic levels, little progress has been achieved except for a limited mutual withdrawal of soldiers by both sides along both northern and southern banks of the Pangong Tso.