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Tibetan Government In Exile Declares Oil Projects "Harmful to Tibetans" Vows That Pipeline, Drilling, Will Be "Actively Opposed"

[International Campaign for Tibet. September 25, 2000]

International Campaign for Tibet


September 25, 2000

CONTACT: John Ackerly, Bhuchung Tsering, 202-785-1515

Asserting its role in the approval of development projects on the Tibetan plateau, the Tibetan Government-In-Exile (TGIE) released a statement today calling for an immediate halt to construction of several oil & gas projects backed by multinationals such as BP, Enron, and Agip. The TGIE, headed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, further urged the corporations to immediately withdraw investments from "Chinese entities engaged in these activities" which include both PetroChina and Sinopec. Today's statement is the first time that the TGIE has taken a position on oil & gas development in Tibet.

"The Tibetan Government-in-Exile's position with respect to development is clear: it supports projects which benefit the Tibetan people and opposes those which cause harm to them" read the statement released by T.C. Tethong, Minister for the Department of Information and International Relations based in Dharamsala, India. Minister Tethong based his statement on the Guidelines for International Development Projects and Sustainable Investment in Tibet, issued by the TGIE.

"Like the recently defeated World Bank project, oil and gas development in Amdo (Qinghai) will involve the resettlement of large numbers of Chinese and will threaten the cultural integrity of Tibetans in the area" said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. "This is a tremendously important statement. TGIE is accepted by Tibetans throughout the world, including in Tibet, as their sole legitimate government. Prospective investors would do well to heed the TGIE's warning".

The oil & gas projects, part of China's "Western Development Plan" include the construction of a 953 km gas pipeline across the Tibetan plateau - the Sebei-Lanzhou pipeline. PetroChina began construction of this pipeline in April of this year. After pressure from human rights groups and Tibet supporters worldwide, BP elected not to engage in a joint venture around the pipeline. BP however, remains as the largest foreign investor in China's oil industry.

In late May of 2000, Agip, the Italian oil company, entered into an agreement with the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) to explore for gas and oil in the Sebei region. Enron is also a major investor in the Chinese petroleum industry, and reportedly gave engineering and design assistance to PetroChina for the construction of the pipeline. Finally, the Chinese oil company Sinopec, which will have its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in October, holds the rights to Tibet's Lunpola oil field, northwest of the capital city of Lhasa.

"[I]ncreases in drilling for oil and gas currently planned for the Tsaidam basin area of Amdo are.problematic" said Minister Tethong. "Such projects are being promoted by China as part of Beijing's planned "Western Development" campaign. Foreign corporations participating in this campaign as it affects Tibet are hereby requested to ensure that their projects are in compliance with the Guidelines set forth by the Tibetan Government-In-Exile. If there is any doubt or confusion, it is the Tibetan Government-in-Exile which shall serve as the final arbiter".



Stephen Kretzmann, Campaigns; 202.785.1515 x33; 510.551.7953 - mobile

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