Tibetan Homes Near Lhasa to be Replaced by Chinese-Style Dwellings

Chinese authorities in Tibet have ordered the destruction of houses built in traditional style in three counties outside the regional capital Lhasa, with their replacement by Chinese-style dwellings scheduled for completion in five years, according to a local source.

Demolition and construction will begin in 2016 in Tagtse (in Chinese, Dazi), Lhundrub (Linzhou), and Maldro Gongkar (Mozhugongka) counties, located outside Lhasa city, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“We are being forced to accept and support the plan without any choice,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Our own house is in very good shape and doesn’t need reconstruction,” she said, adding that residents in all three counties have been ordered to register for their homes to be replaced by buildings of Chinese design.

“We haven’t turned in our own names yet,” she added.

The order for replacement was issued by the Lhasa city government and then communicated to Tibetan families by their county governments, with residents of Tagtse informed in September, Lhundrub in October, and Maldro Gongkar in December, RFA’s source said.

“The project will begin with those families who are recipients of government welfare, and then move on to those families who don’t receive benefits,” she said.

Though anticipated costs of the work in Tagtse and Lhundrub are still unclear, “families in Maldro Gongkar have been told to contribute 200,000 yuan [U.S. $31,340], with remaining expenses paid by the government,” she said.

“Families have been promised the keys to their new homes when the work is finished,” she added.

Details and costs of the planned reconstruction could not be independently confirmed, and calls seeking comment from the Lhasa city government rang unanswered on Thursday.

In 2013, a project to modernize Lhasa’s central Barkhor, or Old City, area ignited a storm of protest online and among international Tibet support groups, with some calling the move an attempt to destroy Tibetans’ “living connection” to their past.

Meanwhile, the demolition in October of Tibetan dwellings near a scenic lake in northwestern China’s Qinghai province has left over 900 homeless and living in tents, sources said in earlier reports.

Reported by Lobsang Choephel for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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