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Plans Announced to Resettle China's Remaining Nomad Population

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New York - According to a statement posted on May 30, 2012 on the official website of the Central People’s Government of the People's Republic of China, the State Council Steering Committee meeting hosted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao passed the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan for the Project on  Resettling Nomadic People within China”.

The announcement marks a major and seemingly final step toward eliminating the remaining population of nomad herders and eradicating the thousands of years old nomadic way of life in China.

The statement says that “the meeting pointed out that since the new China was established especially since the Reform and Open-up policy was implemented, the Party Central Committee and the State Council have especially emphasized the socio-economic development of pastoral areas, bringing a remarkable improvement to the herders’ living conditions and production mode, causing the majority of herders to be resettled in sedentary areas.”

The Twelfth Five-Year Plan aims to resettle the remaining nomad population of 246,000 households or 1.157 million nomads by 2015, according to the document.

The socio-economic and political purposes of the project were stated “to accelerate the development mode shift of animal husbandry and grassland eco-system protection in pastoralist areas, to maintain ethnic harmony and frontier stability, and to lay a firm foundation for building an all around prosperous society”.

Another earlier statement posted on August 3, 2011 on the same website states that the Chinese Ministry of Finance allocated a special fund of 1.7 billion Yuan to the project of resettling nomadic herders particularly in “Xinjiang (including Xinjiang Development Corps), Inner Mongolia and Tibet”. Confirming the Chinese authorities’ determination to permanently end the nomadic way of life of these regions, the statement also emphasized that “resettling nomadic peoples is a popular project that builds a harmonious society in pastoral areas.”

Southern Mongolia, known also as Inner Mongolia, being the largest pastoral area with the largest nomad population in China, has for many decades been the prime target of the Chinese resettlement policy. Waves of state-sponsored Chinese population transfer  to the grasslands of Southern Mongolia have dramatically devastated the ecology of the grasslands, In 2001, the Chinese authorities adopted the “Ecological Migration” policy, essentially strong-armed coercion aimed to relocate the entire nomadic Mongolian population from their ancestral lands to overwhelmingly Chinese populated agricultural and urban areas. As part of their resettlement project, the Chinese authorities also adopted another measure in Southern Mongolia called “Total Ban over Livestock Grazing” that strictly prohibits Mongolian herders from grazing their livestock on their pastures. These policies are intended to squeeze the remaining nomads ever tighter and making their lives barely tolerable. 

China is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that states that “indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.” Yet, ignoring its obligation the Chinese Government continues to aggressively pursue and expand its national project for displacing nomadic herders off their traditional lands and resettling them in agricultural and urban areas.

China praises her resettlement polices as an “achievement” for “improving the living standard of the people”. In 2009 alone, the Chinese authorities “achieved the resettlement of 92,000 nomadic households”, according to the Chinese Government White Paper entitled the “Progress in China’s Human Rights in 2009” posted on the official website of the Central Government of China.



Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center
68-37 108th Street, 6A
Forest Hills, NY 11375

June 5, 2012

Tel/fax: 001-718-786-9236
E-mail :
Facebook: Southern Mongolian Human Rights

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