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Across China: 30 years on, ID cards smooth life for Tibetans
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  • http://english.dbw.cn  2017-02-27 10:36:00
     

    Nyima Drolma has spent 15 years as a police officer, helping Tibetan people in remote areas to acquire ID cards. Compared to her work in the field, days spent at her desk in Lhasa are a walk in the park.

    An ID card in China is an absolute essential. Chinese people use ID cards for everything: buying houses or train tickets, checking into hotels, visiting the doctor. The ID card system was born in 1984 and introduced to Tibet in 1987.

    "Tibet is so vast and herdsmen live in far-flung areas where transportation is often problematic. It is the officers' job to help them take photos, fill in forms and actually get the physical ID cards to the herdsmen," said Drolma, 45.

    "I have ridden horses, yaks, donkeys and tricycles to reach people in remote areas," she said.

    In 1998, she and her colleagues spent days collecting information and taking photos of herdsmen in a settlement about 200 kilometers from the nearest town in Qushui county on the Lhasa River. "We lived in the tents of the herders. It was so cold that the photos could not be developed. Despite the hardship, we think it is important to make the system accessible to all people no matter where they live," she said.

    Thirty years on, now almost all adults in Tibet have ID cards and frequently use them in modern social life.

    "There was nothing like ID cards in the old Tibet," said He Xiaodong, a historian at the regional museum. The museum keeps private stamps of serf owners and indentures which tell the gruesome social structure. Serfdom was abolished in 1951 in Tibet.

    Identity cards are a modern social necessity to grant each individual equal rights to public service, said He.

    Tsering Namgyel, a 71-year-old carpenter in Lhasa, was one of the first Tibetans with an ID card.

    "Before, we used the hukou registration document, and when we needed to travel to other places, we went to local community commissions to ask for stamps and endorsement, which involved complex procedures," he said.

    In the first generation ID card, personal information was hand-written on small cards. China has been issuing its second-generation ID cards, featuring computer chips and digital encryption, nationwide since 2005. The cards have validity periods ranging from 10 years to 20 years.

    The Tibetan regional police department said over three million 2nd-generation ID cards have been granted.

    Generally, people over 16 years old are required to have an ID card, and those under 16 years old can get one if they wish.

    Phurbu, a tourist guide in Lhasa, frequently uses his ID to book tickets for travelling. He cited a 2015 film "Tharlo," which depicted a pony-tailed Tibetan sheep herder's life, far from modernity, but upended after a journey he made to have an ID card made in the city.

    "Life is not as dramatic as the story in the movie," said Phurbu. "ID cards tell who we are and record how we interact with the world around us."

    Author:    Source:CRI    Editor:Yang Fan

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