China’s military recruiting jobless Tibetans on border to form ‘volunteer militia’

China’s military has actively started recruiting local, unemployed youth in Tibet to form a “volunteer militia” in areas across the border from Sikkim, intelligence reports have suggested. Military and intel experts say India should not be too worried about the development but must keep watch on it all the same.

The bulk of India’s 3,488-km border with China runs along Tibet, from Ladakh at one end to Arunachal Pradesh (claimed by China as southern Tibet) on the other. As per reports, the PLA is recruiting unemployed youths who will be sent to police and PLA centres for training and subsequent employment once the indoctrination is completed. Once these locals are complete their training they could be deployed as reinforcements for the regular Chinese army units to keep a watch on border residents at the LAC and gather intelligence. China is also trying to create a force modeled like the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Special Frontier Force (SFF) with men recruited from Tibet Autonomous Region and create a Special Tibetan Army Unit. Sources said those at police centres would be trained for duties at vehicle check posts, those related to immigration, and law and order at model “xiaokang (well-off)” villages, which have reportedly been built all along the border in keeping with President Xi Jinping’s vision for frontier governance.

“To govern the country well we must first govern the frontiers well, and to govern the frontiers well we must first ensure stability in Tibet,” he was quoted as saying in 2013. The youth trained by the PLA, meanwhile, could be deployed as reinforcements for the regular Chinese army units when needed, the inputs suggest.