Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you opposed to mining in Tibet?

The Chinese government is aggressively developing mining and other extractive industries in order to profit off Tibet’s mineral wealth with little to no benefits going to the Tibetan people. Resource exploitation, like the China-Tibet railway, is a component of the Western Development Program, which the Chinese government has openly admitted is politically motivated and a means of solidifying control over the region. Tibetans inside Tibet and “in exile” oppose such forms of politically motivated development in Tibet, which provide little to no benefits to the local people. Simultaneously major projects such as these will bring an influx of even great numbers of Chinese people into traditional Tibetan areas.

But won’t mining bring economic benefits to Tibetans?

Tibetans are not anti-development but they are opposed to projects that are not sustainable, do not benefit Tibetans in the long-run, and are harmful to the environment. Given that Tibetans have little to no say in the proposed mine operations, these projects do not constitute responsible development and are likely to have disastrous consequences for the Tibetan people and their environment.

Are Tibetans being consulted about the proposed mine projects?

Tibetan’s currently have no voice when it comes to how their natural resources will be used. The most basic mining industry standards in state that Tibetans should be consulted about, and directly benefit from the extraction of their own natural resources. However, true consultation in Tibet today is impossible. The level of fear and intimidation Tibetan’s face for speaking out against government sponsored development in Tibet has been well documented, most notably by a World Bank Independent Inspection Panel in 2000, while reviewing funding for a resettlement project to move 58,000 Chinese farmers into Tibet. The Panel concluded that they had found “disturbing and dramatic examples of what can only be described as a climate of fear. Full and informed consultation is impossible if those consulted even perceive that they could be adversely affected for expressing their opposition to, or honest opinions about, a project”. The Panel’s findings together with a world-wide campaign spearheaded by Tibet Support Groups forced the World Bank to eventually pull its funding for the resettlement project.

Aren’t some of these mine sites in Chinese provinces?

The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is the area recognized by the Chinese government as Tibet, post the 1949/50 invasion and subsequent colonization. The former eastern Tibetan provinces of Amdo and Kham were renamed and incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu. Many of the proposed mining projects are in these Tibetan areas that have been subsumed into Chinese provinces but still considered by Tibetans as Tibetan territory.

Isn’t it better for Canadian companies to be engaged in these projects because of their technical expertise?

Western corporations have no business participating in or partnering with the Chinese government in their looting of Tibetans’ natural heritage. Whether by Chinese or foreign corporations, mining will provide nothing to local Tibetans other than mostly low-skilled jobs, often in risky and toxic environments. Tibetans will not see the profits from these operations and as larger areas of Tibet are mined, more communities will be forcefully relocated and environmental destruction will be more widespread.

How else are you campaigning to stop these projects?

In addition to targeting the individual companies, we are pushing the Canadian government to withhold political assistance and support from Canadian mining companies involved in Tibet and to establish legally binding corporate social responsibility standards for Canadian companies operating abroad, especially in the mineral extraction sectors. Goto http://www.halifaxinitiative.org/ to find out more about this initiative.

The bottom line is: Canadian companies have no business participating in or partnering with the Chinese government in their looting of Tibet’s natural resources.

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