China is implementing a mass labour program in Tibet aimed at funnelling rural and nomadic workers into factories, according to a report published by a prominent Tibet and Xinjiang researcher.
In the first seven months of 2020, Tibetan authorities trained more than half a million so-called "rural surplus labourers," according to official documents analysed in a report published on the Jamestown Foundation's website by researcher Adrian Zenz.
The workers underwent "military-style" vocational training for pre-arranged jobs within Tibet and across other Chinese provinces.
The training aims to reform Tibetans' "backward thinking" and "dilute the negative influence of religion," according to government documents cited in the report.
Tibetans are also encouraged to hand over their land and herds to the government and become wage workers.
Tibet has a population of about 3.2 million people, strewn across a tightly controlled region the size of South Africa.
The program, which was set up over the past two years, is reminiscent of China's policies in the western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of members of ethnic minorities have been placed in so-called vocational training centres over the past four years and then sent to work in factories across the country.
The programs' architect is Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party leader in Xinjiang, who was previously in charge of Tibet.
Beijing says its Xinjiang policies are needed to curb terrorism and separatism.
Zenz is a US-based researcher on Xinjiang and Tibet. Earlier this year, his research unveiled a sharp drop in Xinjiang's birth rates, which the government later confirmed.
Australian Associated Press