Dradul, 27, is a young man who lives an ordinary life in a village in Southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region near China’s border with Nepal.
He works as a salesman in a China Mobile service hall in the town and hopes to provide a better life for his aging parents. As a huge fan of the Indian movie star Shahrukh Khan, he loves to share videos in which he impersonates his idol to sing and dance on the popular short video platform Douyin, or Tik Tok.
But what’s unusual is that he and his nearly 200 fellow villagers, all members of the Da Mag people, had been stateless and homeless until 2003, when China accepted them as citizens and founded their village, also called Da Mag, in Gyirong county, Shigatse city.
Da Mag means “cavalry” in the Tibetan language. According to legend, the villagers are descended from a Gurkha cavalry unit that was part of a large force sent by Nepal to invade Tibet from 1788 to 1792. However, the unit was defeated by an army dispatched by the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and its members were unable to return home.
For over two centuries, their ancestors intermingled with the local Tibetans, picking up their language, customs and culture. But one problem – a lack of nationality – made their lives extremely hard and inconvenient.
However, the modern generation was fortunate enough to see a turning point coming in 2003 when the State Council, China’s cabinet, officially approved the Da Mag people’s application for citizenship.
Since then, sweeping changes have taken place in every aspect of their lives, ranging from living conditions, employment and income, to education and status.
Dradul was just one person who has witnessed the history and benefited from the changes. In this video, he introduces to us what life looked like in the past, how his life and the village have transformed after they were awarded Chinese nationality, and what he thinks of being a Chinese citizen. He also sends his best wishes to the country as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Da Mag group sees incomes and status rise after becoming part of New China
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