Yushu ཡུལ་ཤུལ་གྲོང་ཁྱེར། has a population of around 295,000 with Khampas making up approximately 97% of the population. There has always been a small Muslim population in Jyekundo and Tibetans often employ people from this group to butcher their animals, since Tibetans, as Buddhists, though predominantly meat-eaters, prefer to avoid the bad karma that taking a life incurs. Most of the Han Chinese who live in Yushu now moved there as migrant workers after the economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1992.
It is noticeable as you drive from Xining, the capital of the Qinghai Province, to Jyekundo, that the road is maintained almost entirely by migrant workers. In Yushu they have become an integral part of the industrial work force, building solar electricity stations and rebuilding many of the houses destroyed in the earthquake of 2010.
These workers have made great contributions to the modernisation and development of both urban and rural districts, but much of the work they do could as well have been done by local Tibetans and with them they have brought new customs to an area which hitherto had boasted a well preserved Tibetan culture.
All Images © Rinchen Lucy 2016