Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tibetans in the PLA Paramilitary

According to the Tibet site of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), on June 15, the Tibet Military Command or District (TMD) held a special flag presentation ceremony for five new militia units, which will be working under the PLA.
The Global Times reported: “PLA Tibet military command and Tibet Autonomous Region held a flag presentation ceremony for 5 new militia units including an air patrol team, polar communication team and extreme climbing team in Lhasa. The duties of the militia units are patrol and emergency rescue.”
Two units have not been named.

Comments from China Defense Blog
The author of the military blog commented on the function: "Recently China's Tibet MD commissioned 5 units of 'militia' into its rank.   Personally, I think the phase 'militia' could be a mis-translation conjures a negative connotation of a bunch farmers and their Type56 semi-automatic carbines.    Those ex-PLA has their own chopper fleet and air traffic radar sites, providing air patrol as well as S&R [Service and Recovery ] operations, not exactly living on rice and beans here.
They are more aligned with the US 'civilian auxiliary' 'Civil Air Patrol' than the 'people's militia' of the 1960 we knew and loved."

What is the Militia
The Militia in China is one part of the armed forces of China; the other two being the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police (PAP).
The Militia, under the Communist Party serves as an auxiliary and reserve force for the PLA.
It is one of the largest militias in the world, said to have 8 million members.
According to Article 22 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on National Defence, the Militia, under the command of military organs, shoulders the tasks of preparations against war and defence operations, and assists in maintaining public order.
According to Article 36 of the Military Service Law of the People's Republic of China, the Militia's tasks are:
  • To take an active part in the socialist modernization drive and be exemplary in completing the tasks in production and other fields;
  • To undertake the duties related to preparations for war, defend the frontiers and maintain public order; and
  • To be always ready to join the armed forces to take part in war, resist aggression and defend the motherland.
The militia is organized into regional militia corps in each of the five theater commands of the PLA.
It works under the overall coordination of the National Defense Mobilization Commission of the Central Military Commission (CMC), which can order the deployment of its personnel during peacetime and wartime, if and when ordered by the CMC Chairman (Xi Jinping).

Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie
Not a banal function
First, because it was presided by Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie, TMD Political Commissar.
General Zhang is the senior most PLA officer, along with Lt Gen Wang Haijiang, the commander of the Tibet Military District, facing India’s northern borders.
In 2018, Gen Zhang replaced Lt Gen Wang Jianwu, who has been transferred as Deputy Director of the all-powerful Political Work Department of the CMC.
According to Chinese specialized website, Zhang Xuejie served for several years in the former Nanjing Military Region first as Political Commissar of the 91st Division of the Army’s 31st Army, and then deputy director of the Political Department of the 31st Army,
In 2013, he was posted as Political Commissar of the 12th Army of the Army; the same year, he became a major general.
In 2014, he served as political committee member of the 31st Army of the Army.
In 2017, he became deputy director of the Political Work Department of the PLA’s Eastern Theater (ETC).
In May 2018, he was promoted as TMD Political Commissar.
Let not forget that the TMD had been upgraded to a sub-theater unit, under the PLA Army or Ground Force of the Central Military Commission in 2016.
Zhang became lieutenant general in June 2019 and in January 2020, his name was added to the TAR’s Standing Committee of the Communist Party.

What does gen Zhang’s presence at this function mean?
The Chinese authorities have obviously decided to integrate more Tibetans in the defense forces, at least in the paramilitary forces, giving them good salaries and buying their fidelity.
The Political Commissar chairing the function means to it part of Beijing ‘political work’ to stabilize Tibet …and the borders.
This could have serious implications for India who is fighting a battle in the Himalaya for an imaginary Line of Actual Control, which Beijing has systematically refused to define.

Che Dalha

Behind the Political Commissar is Che Dalha (དགྲ་ལྷ, 齐扎拉), romanized as Che Zala and Qizhala.
He is Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region since January 15, 2017.
Born in August 1958 in Zhongdian County (today’s Yunnan), he is the senior most Tibetan official in the TAR. He heads the government since October 2017; further, he is a member of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.
He earlier served as Communist Party Secretary of the Tibetan capital Lhasa between 2012 and 2017.
His presence demonstrates the importance for China to ‘integrate’ the local Tibetans in the defence forces.

Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam
Also on the dais, is Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam, 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
A few years ago, I mentioned Gen Ngawang Sonam on this blog:
Ngawang [Ang Mong] Sonam is a Deputy Commander of Military District, Qinghai Military District of Lanzhou Military Area Command. A Chinese publication noted: "These [officers] bring pride to the rugged western China [Tibet and Xinjiang], they are absolutely honest and have defended the country's frontiers with their blood; they feel from their heart for the people.”
The publication added: “Minority officers, who represent the people in ethnic minority areas in the country's highest political authority [the NPC] are dedicated to a strong army and China’s steadfast dream.’ He decided to follow the footsteps of his elder brother and join the army. Many Tibetans like Ngawang Sonam have a pastoral background; most of them did not even know how to use chopsticks, explained a Chinese publication; they learned the skill in the PLA: “We were also taught Chinese, we learned to write Chinese characters, as the Chinese soldiers did know how speak the minority language (Tibetan),” Sonam recalled, adding: “By the time the [Tibetan] soldiers are demobilized, they are usually proficient in Chinese and can read the local language as well.
All this does not augur well for the relations between India and Tibet.
It needs to be followed closely as nobody in India would like to have one day to fight against Tibetan soldiers and officers.

Add caption

The Next Day, Lt Gen Wang Hiajiang, Commander, TMD visiting the area

No comments: