The Chinese PLA , involved in bloody border brawls with the Indian Army, has substantially increased of ethnic Tibetans in its force.
A confidential report on such recruitments prepared by an Indian agency monitoring China and now available with Easternlink says five new military units totally staffed by Tibetan soldiers (mostly cross Han-Tibetans born of Chinese fathers-Tibetan mothers or Tibetan fathers-Chinese mothers) have been launched on 15 June this year.
That was the day after President Xi Jinping’s 67th birthday and also the day when the PLA unleashed treacherous attacks on Indian army at Galwan Valley in Ladakh . 23 Indian soldiers and 11 are still missing , 110 injured of which 24 were hospitalised. The Chinese lost 18/20 in the evening brawl, 29 in fierce counter-action by the ‘Ghataks’ of 3rd Punjab and 20-25 in the huge landslide which the Chinese allege was triggered by Indians exploding dynamites but the Indians dismiss just as ‘Hand of God’.
A Chinese dissident PLA officer Jiangli is said to claimed more than 100 deaths but Boom says tweets attirbuted to his claim were fake .
On 15 June, Tibet Military District Commissar Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie launched five special Tibetan military units , three of which bore names like ‘Air Patrol Teams’, ‘Polar Communication Teams’ and ‘Extreme Climbing Teams’.Two of the five units had not yet been named — or their names have been missed out by the Indian intelligence radar.
It was not clear what specific roles these teams have been trained for, but military intelligence analysts suggest it was certain that the Tibetans, hardy high mountain fighters as they naturally are, would be inducted for special roles in the Himalayan conflict zones. If China has ambitions to have a presence in the Poles, they might be useful , as the name of one of the units suggests.
India has several units of Tibetans like the Special Frontier Force and the highly secretive, heli-ski specialist ‘Vishal Force’ who have played a big role in Indian army’s capture and control of strategic heights like Siachen.
The Chinese worry about these Tibetan units and other para-trained special forces retained by the US which trained the best fighters of the Tibetan ‘Tengsun Mangla Magar’ or National Volunteer Defense Army in the 1950-60s who were para-dropped in Tibet from bases in East Pakistan . John Prados’ “President’s Secret Army’ and a host of other books including my “Insurgent Crossfire” provides details of the joint India-US backed Tibetan guerrilla warfare before the 1962 war .
With a bill placed in US Congress for recognising Tibet’s independence and loud noises in India suggesting Delhi should play the ‘Tibetan card’ , Beijing’s worst nightmares are no longer Humphrey Hawksley fiction .
So while only one Uighur has made it to the PLA’s top leadership so far, many Tibetans seems to have made it to very top. Uighur origin Saimath Muhhamat is a major general in the PLA and now deputy commandant of the Lanzhou Military Region.
Below is the list of senior Tibetan figures in the PLA .
Tian Bao (Sangey Yeshi) : His Tibetan name is Senge Yeshi and is one of the few Tibetans who joined Mao’s Red Army during its Long March in 1935. He was the political Commissar of the PLA in Tibet and perhaps most powerful Tibetan in both Army and the Administration in the region and probably the whole of China. He was the Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee established in late 1968 and was elected a full member of the CCP Central Committee at the 10th Congress8 .
Maj Gen Thubten Thinley. He is a 56 year-old Tibetan, born in December, 1961 in Lhasa. He is one of the senior most serving Tibetan officer9 . (i) Thubten Thinley was admitted to the Communist Party in July 1987 after spending three years in the lower ranks of the PLA. Prior to joining the military, he completed a four year university course and then did a couple of mid-career stints at the Central Party School in Beijing. (ii) The selection of General Thubten Thinley is nonetheless a clear indication of the importance attached by Beijing to the ‘poverty alleviation’ program, via ‘local’ Army enrolment. Possibly his main job is probably the recruitment of Tibetans in the PLA.
Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam : He is a Tibetan General who is presently deputy commander of TMD. Ngawang Sonam was born in Yushu, (Jyekundo in today’s Qinghai province) in October 1962. He became a member of the Communist Party of China early in his life and graduated in Political Work from the PLA’s Xuanhua Artillery Command Academy. He was a PLA delegate to the 12th National Peoples’ Party (NPC). He was then serving as deputy commander of the Qinghai Military Region.
Guowa Jiamaoji : The 54 year old was born in a Tibetan area of northwest China’s Qinghai province and has been serving in the PLA’s Political Work Department Song and Dance Troupe as folk singer for over 20 years. In March 2018, while speaking during a panel session at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Guowa mentioned of prejudice against Tibetan cadres, especially in Han-dominated areas .
Maj Bai Ma Luo Bu : This officer has been seen on numerous occasions during the BPMs held at Bumla. Aged around 35-38 years, he has 12-14 years of service. It is however uncertain whether he belongs to the BD or regular force. The CCP has had representation from the Tibetans as well. China has ensured that the Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region People’s Government, since 1979 is invariably a Tibetan with strong communist ideology.
Important Tibetans as members of the CCP in the province include:- (a) Che Dalha : Che Dalha, aged 59, is an ethnic Tibetan who hails from Shangri-La (formerly known as Zhongdian County) in Yunnan province. He is Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) since January 2017. Che is the senior-most Tibetan official in the TAR and a member of the Communist Party of CCP’s Central Committee12 . (b) Losang Jamcan : He is an ethnic Tibetan politician in the PRC. He is the President of TAR People’s Congress Standing Committee,
The Chinese military intelligence and the MSS recruits large number of Tibetans who are sent to penetrate the Dalai Lama/ Central Tibetan Authority networks in India and other Tibetan groups elsewhere in the world.
Their families received goodies if they succeed , but face trouble if they don’t deliver.
11 Tibetan-origin Chinese passport holders have been recently arrested in the North Bengal region for trying to melt into the Indian milieu on expiry of their visas.
In decades gone by, such Chinese-trained Tibetans would feign escape from their homeland fo join the CTA or Tibetan Youth Congress as embedded spies , but this writer knows of at least one case where a smart Indian Counter-Intelligence spotted three of them in fine physical condition impossible for someone exposed to frostbite and other vagaries of nature in a tough escape .
These three were trailed discreetly until they have penetrated the CTA and Dalai Lama set-up and started radioing inputs back to their handlers. They were arrested and punished in secret.