Identity The Queyu have been officially counted as part of the Tibetan nationality, primarily because they follow the Tibetan Buddhist religion. Linguistically, however, the Queyu are closer to the Qiang minority.
History In late 1955 Chinese authorities ordered the monks of the large Litang Monastery to make an inventory of the monastery's possessions for tax assessment. The monks refused to oblige. In February 1956, the People's Liberation Army responded by laying siege to Litang Monastery, which was defended by several thousand monks and farmers, of whom many were armed with farm implements. Litang was bombed by Chinese aircraft, destroying the monastery and killing hundreds of people. The Tibetans, outraged by the attack, spread the conflict to the surrounding towns of Dege, Batang, and Chamdo.
Customs Although today the Queyu wear clothing similar to the Tibetans, there are a number of ancient tianlu, or stone watchtowers, scattered throughout the region inhabited by the Queyu, revealing this group's historic relationship to the Qiang.
Religion All Queyu are Tibetan Buddhists, although there are also many aspects of shamanism and black magic within their religious practices.
Christianity Protestant and Catholic missionaries worked in the Litang area until the early 1950s. Today there is a small Protestant church among the Khampa Tibetans in Litang County, and there are some Catholics in Yajiang. Most people in the area, however, have never heard the name of Christ, and there are no known Queyu believers. The situation has changed little since this report in 1922: "This region is not only without a resident missionary, but even the scouts of Christianity have barely touched it except at one or two points. ... What is more serious is the fact that many border mission centers are undermanned or not manned at all."
Seven thousand speakers of the Queyu language were reported in a 1991 study. Many Queyu men are applying to enter Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. Consequently, the population growth of the Queyu is expected to slow. The Queyu inhabit the three counties of Xinlong, Yajiang, and Litang in the large Garze Prefecture which covers a vast area of western Sichuan Province. Litang Township lies at an altitude of 4,700 meters (15,400 ft.) above sea level. The Queyu area was formerly part of the Kham Province of Tibet, until it was annexed and incorporated into China in the 1950s. (Source: Operation China, 2000)