In 1999, the Chinese government launched the “Western Development Strategy”, politically motivated plan designed to further consolidate control over Tibet through economic rather than military means. Claiming that the plan will bring “development” and “prosperity” as well as “national unity” to the region, million dollar investments have been made in large scale transportation and communication infrastructure, most notably the construction of the China-Tibet railway and major extractive projects like mine operations and oil pipelines.
The Western Development Strategy is threatening the survival of Tibetan identity and cultural in more subtle but equally destructive ways as overt force. The relocation of millions of ethnically Chinese settlers into Tibet and the exploitation of Tibet’s mineral resources to feed China’s industrial provinces along the Eastern seaboard are two central components of the plan. The Chinese government has been promoting Tibet to foreign owned mining companies who have the technical expertise and capitol to invest in Tibet’s isolated and difficult mining environment. Teaming up with experienced foreign firms is also a way for the Chinese state owned companies to raise their competitiveness in the world markets.
Large scale development in Tibet has rarely benefited Tibetans and mining in this context will likely flood the area with Chinese workers, further marginalizing Tibetans economically, culturally and politically while hastening the plundering of Tibetans natural wealth. Increased investment in resource extraction projects in Tibet places increased pressure on Tibet’s fragile eco-system and further assimilates its people and culture.
Canadian companies have no business profiting from China’s colonization of Tibet.