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BP Trips Up Over PetroChina Investment

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/10/26; October 26, 2000.]

Contact: Paula Hollings

For Tibet Vigil

E-mail: paula.hollings@freeuk.com

LONDON October, 2000 -- During a recent meeting between BP and representatives from Tibet Vigil and Free Tibet Campaign, David Rice, Director of BP's Policy Unit for Government and Public Affairs scored an own goal by quoting a striking example in support of the main argument against BP's controversial investment in PetroChina.

Tibet supporters have been strongly urging BP to sell their $580m stake in PetroChina on the grounds that an investment in the State-owned Chinese company inevitably supports all of PetroChina's activities, regardless of BP's claim that they are not involved in the company's new pipeline project to extract gas from Tibet. BP's justification for continuing with the investment is that of the benefactor helping to improve standards. When Paula Hollings representing Tibet Vigil likened this to a company believing that investing in Hitler's Germany would make nazism a more benevolent regime, David Rice shot himself in the foot. "It's already been done. In 1938 an oil company I believe did just that and helped to bring Hitler to power".

That was not the only embarrassing moment for Mr Rice and his colleague David Meighan, BP's Asia Pacific advisor. Free Tibet Campaign Director Alison Reynolds asked what BP intends to do with the dividend from PetroChina's activities in Tibet. Mr Rice replied, "That is a moot point. We don't have an answer to that yet."

Simon Gould, organiser of Tibet Vigil, added the following comments after the meeting: "I hope Tibet supporters are aware that BP and Sinopec are already working together in the joint venture of Yaraco, a company in China manufacturing acetic acid. BP's investment in Yaraco (51%) is the largest foreign investment in inland China. The joint venture was formed in 1995, so the likelihood is that BP will have helped advise Sinopec on potential strategies for development, not only in the Sichuan area, but possibly as far as Tibet, since BP see advising Chinese businesses on potentialities as part of their brief."

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