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New Report Documents China's Exploitation of Tibet's Oil and Mineral Resources. BP and ENI/AGIP Implicated in Economic Colonization of Tibet. Tibetan Government in Exile Calls Increased Drilling "Problematic."

[Milarepa Fund; October 12, 2000.]

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

JC Callender 313.903.4311 (Beijing, Milarepa Fund)

Josh Schrei 212.226.4739 (New York City, Milarepa Fund)

Deyden Tethong 44.7796.012.533 (London, Milarepa Fund)

A report released today by the Milarepa Fund and Project Underground investigates China's increased exploitation of Tibet's oil and mineral resources, and the involvement of western oil and mining companies on the Tibetan plateau. The report presents compelling new information that exposes Beijing's western development plan as a further effort to colonize and consolidate control over Tibet. As the report reveals, the new wave of resource extraction and infrastructure in Tibet will aid the Chinese government's population transfer policy, further economically marginalize Tibetans in their own country, increase militarization in an already volatile area, and have disastrous environmental effects.

"As a subjugated people in a totalitarian country, the Tibetans have no say in the development path that is being thrust upon them," said Deyden Tethong, Campaign Coordinator for the Milarepa Fund. "Hopefully this report will shed some light on the real implications of China's new gold rush."

The report exposes how the Chinese government is enlisting the help of western multinational corporations to extract Tibet's resources and attract tens of thousands of Han Chinese settlers to the region. Through direct investment, joint ventures, and technical support, companies like BP and ENI/Agip are driving Beijing's efforts to appropriate Tibet's resources.

BP is the primary foreign investor in PetroChina, a division of the Chinese government's state owned oil company. ENI/Agip is involved in a joint venture with PetroChina in the construction of a natural gas pipeline through the Amdo province of Tibet.

Such joint ventures and development projects have proven to be extremely controversial. PetroChina's attempt to go public on the New York Stock Exchange last April was thwarted by an international campaign that cost the company $7 billion. The World Bank, under heavy international pressure, was forced to cancel a proposed loan that would have resettled 58,000 Chinese farmers onto Tibetan lands. Similar outcry is expected when Sinopec, a Chinese oil company with drilling rights on the Tibetan plateau, goes public on October 18th.

The report details how the oil and mining projects that are being put forward by the Chinese government will be of little benefit to Tibetans. Economic benefits that do accrue from resource extraction in Tibet, whether through employment, infrastructure, or income, will benefit Han Chinese immigrants and the provincial and national government first. The projects will also have devastating effects on the Tibetan environment. China is a country with severe environmental problems and a record of lax environmental regulation and enforcement. Oil extraction and mining on the Tibetan plateau has the potential to contaminate five of Asia's greatest rivers and adversely affect nearly half the world's population. Cyanide and mercury contamination from China's new gold mines will threaten traditional nomadic homelands.

"Increases in drilling for oil and gas currently planned for the Tsaidam basin area of Amdo are problematic," said T.C. Tethong, Minister for the Department of Information and International Relations based in Dharamsala, India. "Such projects are being promoted by China as part of Beijing's 'Western Development' campaign."

This campaign is central to the Chinese government's plans over the next ten years. Eager to gain Western capital for resource extraction and infrastructure projects, China is hosting conferences in Beijing and Hong Kong this month that will focus specifically on the development of these areas.

A recent cover story in the international edition of Newsweek Magazine entitled China's Wild West, details how Beijing hopes to "quell ethnic unrest" through economic development.

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The Milarepa Fund is an international organization that supports the Tibetan people's nonviolent struggle to regain their freedom.

Project Underground is a non-governmental organization that supports the human rights of communities resisting mining and oil exploitation.

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