Thu, 05 Oct 2023

Lhasa [Tibet], June 8 (ANI): For China, the elaborate setting up of a national parks "system", particularly in Tibet is not an end in itself. The formal designation of a landscape as a national park in Tibet does not necessarily change the situation on the ground, at least in the short term, according to Tibet Rights Collective report.

What does change quickly is the transfer of legal power from local and provincial governments to the national party-state in Beijing, Gabriel Lafitte, who has spent years living with Tibetans, in exile and in Tibet wrote in the Tibet Rights Collective report.

This nationalisation comes along with metropolitan investment, allocation of staff and recruitment of local people to be employed as park rangers out on patrol to enforce national policies.

The people should learn to look through Chinese eyes at Tibet before they join the rangers on their motorbikes. In today's China, everything is considered a security threat. Even the remotest landscape where Tibetan drogpa nomads reside must be secured. Allowing people to wander with their animals beyond surveillance in official eyes is a self-evident security risk.

The report said that the remotest peripheral frontier grasslands must be made orderly, scrutable, and legible in the eyes of the security state. It is not only because unsupervised land users are likely to degrade the commons but as security is a necessary precondition of development.

In these ways, development with Chinese characteristics implies urbanisation, sedentarisation, the housing of large numbers in demonstrating "moderate prosperity" xiaokang villages, with centralised education and health care to encourage the wanderers to settle where the services are located, like schools and hospitals, Tibet Rights Collective reported.

Earlier in May, Chinese President Xi Jinping directed the entire party-state to "deeply understand the complex and severe situation facing national security, correctly grasp major national security issues and accelerate the modernization of the national security system and capabilities, safeguard the new development pattern with the new security pattern, and strive to create a new situation in national security work. The Central National Security Commission has persisted in carrying forward the spirit of struggle, resolutely safeguarded national sovereignty, security and development interests, and comprehensively strengthened national security," Tibet Rights Collective reported.

Earlier this century, development, security and stability were defined as twin goals, particularly in central Tibet, where development was the long-term solution to all problems of Tibet. However, the short-term need to secure Tibet used to come first and it sparked tension between the two goals, Tibet Rights Collective reported. The tension is not resolved as there is nothing that is not a security threat in the entire Tibetan plateau.

In April this year, all this was brought under the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Ecological Restoration Law to strengthen national control, Tibet Rights Collective reported. The law is now in effect in Tibetan prefectures and counties of TAR, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan and even the Arjin Shan of southern Xinjiang. Ecological "restoration" is the concept named by the law to be achieved by China's struggle to create "ecological civilisation," Tibet Rights Collective reported.

All these developments suggest active human involvement on the ground to improve the grasslands. The new Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Ecological Restoration Law calls for the shifting of nomads from pastures, the report said.

All official policies, including watershed protection, biomass growth of grass, carbon capture, poverty alleviation, job security for park rangers, biodiversity protection and national park redline zoning need further displacement of drokpa and their settlement in newly built concrete slab housing, as per the news report.

The few remaining Tibetans employed as park rangers are out on constant patrol 22 consecutive days each month. One of their duties is to enforce the removal of nomads, livestock and grazing pressure even if this targets their own families. The national park "system" should not be considered in isolation and it should not be assumed as a self-evident public good, since wildlife is now protected.

The decision even requires drokpa who were ordered 30 years back to fence their allocated land to now tear down those fences and to let wildlife migrate. Overriding provincial governments, central leaders have the power to protect the "hotspots" of biodiversity of the plateau due to one law covering the entire plateau in six Chinese provinces.

The national parks and natural reserves which might soon be upgraded to national parks, are almost wholly in northern Tibet. However, the greatest biodiversity, of animals and plants is in Kham which has only small areas officially protected, according to Tibet Rights Collective report.

The new Panda National Park connects fragmented panda bamboo forests of the eastern fringes of Kham to at last allow pandas room to connect. However, the steep valleys and highland pastures of Kham, rich in sowa rigpa traditional medicinal herbs and endangered monkeys, red pandas, takin and other animals have no protection. Instead, mining is being carried out in Kham, which includes the extraction of copper from Yulong, between Jomda and Derge, and lithium from Lhagang.

The development of large hydro dams is moving upriver into Kham to power the processing of minerals at the mine site, particularly for the export of electricity to east coast China. It is a development with Chinese characteristics, likely to enhance as Beijing obsesses global security risks, and fears losing access to the copper and extraction from Kham will increase, Gabriel Lafitte said in the report.

As per the news report, national parks do not have good outcomes. The positives should be considered against the negative effects which include widespread disempowerment, demobilisation, displacement, and depopulation of the rangelands. As a result, Tibetan loss of food security and increased reliance on transfer payments by the central party-state. (ANI)

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