Tibetan rights groups have criticised a UN cultural organisation’s decision to extend world heritage status to an extensive plateau area in a heavily Tibetan area, saying it reinforces Chinese control in the region.
The groups argue the Unesco designation will allow Chinese authorities to remove residents from the area, known as Hoh Xil in Qinghai province, and threaten its environment and nomadic culture.
“The (Unesco) Committee ignored the reality that Tibetans, and nomads in particular, are stewards of the landscape whose role is essential to sustaining the wildlife,” said Kai Mueller, executive director of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).
The area has an elevation of more than 4,500 metres and is home to several endemic species as well as the entire migratory route of the endangered Tibetan antelope.
The designation of protected areas does not give Unesco any powers of enforcement, but has proved to be controversial in areas plagued by conflicting territorial claims.
On Friday, Unesco also designThe Tibetan rights groups argue the Unesco designation could accelerate Chinese efforts to move nomads into settled villages.