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Boycotted Tibet-Area Relocation To Resume

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/01/25; January 25, 2002.]

South China Morning Post
Thursday, January 24, 2002.

Thousands of Chinese will be resettled in a Tibetan and Mongolian area, officials said yesterday, relaunching a controversial plan which lost World Bank backing after international criticism.

The scheme will see about 20,000 people moved to the Dulan region of Qinghai province, a far western area bordering Tibet, officials said.

"The project in Dulan will restart in March," a spokesman for the Qinghai region anti-poverty office said, adding that the central Government would cover funds that were to have been provided by the World Bank.

At the end of the 1990s, the World Bank pledged about US$40 million (HK$312 million) for a plan that would have seen an estimated 58,000 people, mainly ethnic Han and Hui Chinese, relocated to Dulan's Qaidam desert, a historically Tibetan region in the centre of Qinghai.

One year later the bank withdrew support for the plan after a campaign by exiled Tibetan groups and human rights activists. The campaigners accused the bank of co-operating with the central Government to promote ethnic Chinese immigration into Tibet to obliterate the indigenous culture.

Beijing said the project was part of a programme to develop the disadvantaged west of the country and help some of China's poorest inhabitants.

In an internal report in 2000, the World Bank accepted the migration risked contributing to the destruction of the region's Buddhist culture. A spokesman for the Minhe area of the Qinghai province, from where the settlers will move, said 600 people left for Dulan last year in a "trial run".

A further 400 households had left "on a trial basis to clear and cultivate the soil". About 20,000 Minhe locals would move to Dulan, he said, without giving a date.

China has moved millions of people into the vast regions of Tibet and northwestern Xinjiang in recent decades, as well as the neighbouring provinces of Qinghai and Gansu.

The Qaidam basin, on which the Dulan economy depends, contains a wealth of natural resources including oil, gas, potash, zinc, copper and lead.

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