(This is in continuation of my article ‘On the Occasion Of 70th Year Of Aggression Of China Into Tibet: Big Corporations Doing Business With China To Be Indirectly Blamed? Part 1 of 3, which was published on kreately. in on February 15, 2021)

China Aggression of Tibet – The Fateful Day

The fateful day come in the history of Tibet when the People’s Liberation Army of China attacked Tibet in 1949.  The Chinese Communists tried to persuade the Tibetan government to begin negotiations for the “peaceful liberation” of the country, and when the Tibetan officials hesitated, Chinese forces attacked the Tibetan army in October 1950 and captured the town of Qamdo (Chamdo)[1]. The Chinese army did not, however, occupy Lhasa, since Mao Zedong wanted China’s claim to Tibet legitimized by having the Dalai Lama voluntarily accept Chinese rule. The Tibetan government, demoralized by the lack of support from other countries, most notably Britain and India, for Tibetan independence, sent negotiators to Beijing in the spring of 1951 to reach a settlement with the Chinese government. In May 1951, the Tibetan delegates signed a “17-Point Agreement”-without the Dalai Lama’s knowledge or authority -formally recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Tibet[2]. To this day, the Chinese refer to the events from 1949 to 1951 as culminating in the “Peaceful Liberation” of Tibet. It should be better called “Economic Exploitation of Tibet by China and their Hegemony”

China Economy Growth

China’s real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 6.7% from 1953 to 1978, although the accuracy of these data has been questioned by many analysts, some of whom contend that during this period, Chinese government officials (especially at the subnational levels) often exaggerated production levels for a variety of political reasons[3].

Source: Angus Maddison, Historical, Statistics of the World Economy: 1-2008 AD[3].

Since 1979, China’s economy has grown substantially faster, and, for the most part, has avoided major economic disruptions. From 1979 to 2018, China’s annual real GDP averaged 9.5%. This has meant that on average China has been able to double the size of its economy in real terms every eight years. The global economic slowdown, which began in 2008, had a significant impact on the Chinese economy. From 2008 to 2010, China’s real GDP growth averaged 9.7%. However, the rate of GDP growth declined slowed for the next six consecutive years, falling from 10.6% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2016. Real GDP ticked up to 6.8% in 2017, but slowed to 6.6% in 2018, (although it rose to 6.8% in 2017)[3].

Source: Chinese Annual Real GDP Growth: 1979-2018[3].

The IMF’s April 2019 World Economic Outlook projects that China’s real GDP growth will slow each year over the next six years, falling to 5.5% in 2024.

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019

Role of Western Corporations in Tibetan Genocide

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png
Foreign Machinery installed in Tibet

Following the opening of the Golmud-Lhasa railway line in 2006, there has been a massive boom in mining operations on the Tibetan plateau. In March 2010, the Chinese government announced plans for exploiting over 110 proven varieties of minerals (with 3,000 potential mining sites) on the Tibetan plateau, worth more than US$125 billion—with large reserves of copper, chromium, gold, and lithium, to mention a few minerals, as well as large oil and gas reserves. Tibetan nomads have protested new mining operations, which poison drinking water and kill herd animals. On top of this, dam-building has expanded considerably across the plateau[4].

End Result: China wants the traditional grazing lands of the Tibetan nomads and is forcing them off these lands.

NORTH AMERICA

1. Canada: – It is the foreign nation with the greatest number of investments in Tibet, particularly in the railway and mining sectors. Canadian ventures completely avoid the topic of adopting a clearly stated human rights policy, and few of them adhere to their own stated positions on ethical business practices when in China. Nortel, for instance, states the following position on its website: “We strive to do the right thing for individuals, organizations, and the society in general.”

Fine words, but Tibetans have absolutely no say in what is happening to Tibet's resources. The land area of Tibet is by law owned by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), which enforces its decisions through its extensive military and paramilitary arms.
Canadian Companies Network for Tibetan Plateau Exploitations

A. Railways to Tibetan Capital Lhasa

Mining Train to Tibet
  • Bombardier Inc (Montreal)Building special railcars for the Golmud-Lhasa line. The locomotives, which can handle high-altitude conditions, are built by General Electric USA
  • Power Corp (Montreal)Building special railcars for Golmud-Lhasa line
  • Nortel (Montreal)Digital wireless communications network for the Golmud-Lhasa line
  • Rail Partners (a subsidiary of American company TGZ, but investors largely from Canada)Involved in high-end touring to Tibet, using luxury railcars built by Bombardier[4].

  B. Mining of Minerals (copper, Gold, Zinc) on Tibetan Plateau

Mining at Gyama, Central Tibet

The joint-venture Chinese companies use Canadian company technical expertise for mining exploration and development. The Chinese government then stonewalls on permits to actually launch the mine (stonewalling can go on for years), and finally, the Canadian company is bought out for low prices. Some of the Canadian Companies that were involved in the exploitation of are:

  • Continental Minerals (Vancouver, gold mine exploration in Tibet).
  • GobiMin (Toronto, copper-zinc project in Tibet).
  • Sterling Group (Vancouver, lithium carbonate project in Tibet), and Inter-Citic (Toronto, gold exploration)[4].
  • Hunter Dickinson’s subsidiary Continental Minerals announced the sale of its controversial central Tibet Shethongmon mine site to the Chinese-owned Jinchuan Group in 2010. Although Tibetan rights groups have protested this but were crushed by the Chinese Communist Army[4].
  • China’s Western Mining Company bought out Inter-Citic Minerals (Markham, Ontario)—which conducted gold-exploration near Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (SNNR), in a location formerly home to Tibetan nomads and their herds. The nomads were forcibly removed from the grasslands. By 2005 the boundaries were redrawn so exploration and mining could go ahead[4].
In the Tibetan Plateau—in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces—Chinese companies and government geological bureaus are more open to joint ventures with outsiders.
  • China Gold International Resources, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, acquired the large mining site at Gyama (Jiama) in Medrokungar, northeast of Lhasa. China Gold International Resources is controlled by the state-owned enterprise China National Gold Group (CNGG), which has its senior people assigned their positions by the CCP. CNGG owns 40% of China Gold International Resources. Another 20% of the company is owned by the British Virgin Islands company Rapid Result Investment (RRI). RRI was set up by CCP officials from Beijing and Lhasa, obviously interested in off-shore accounts. That means that China Gold is 60% owned by the CCP. Essentially owned and controlled by the CCP but headquartered in Vancouver, China Gold is using the Canadian financial markets to raise money to exploit the already dire situation in Tibet. On March 29, 2013, a massive mud-rock avalanche buried 83 miners at a mountain location near Gyama[4].
  • Eldorado Gold Corp (Vancouver)—gold—or ‘conflict gold’. As with the other gold-miners here, this qualifies for what the World Gold Council refers to as ‘conflict gold’. Meaning that it is unethically mined, against the wishes of the indigenous people, the Tibetans—and thus should not be sold on the world market. Eldorado has a 90% stake in Tanjianshan Gold Mine in Qinghai[4].
  • Tri-River Ventures (Vancouver)—exploring for gold, copper lead, and zinc. Their flagship Chinese operation is Lianlong Mine in Kandze, Sichuan, in the Three Parallel Rivers region (World Heritage Site). Tri-River Ventures is also involved in the Kunteyi Salt Lake property in Qinghai, which is said to be in production[4].

C. Dam Instrumentation

  • RocTest Ltd—This Quebec-based company has been involved in supplying geotechnical instruments used in the building of large dams on the Yalong River in Sichuan, southwest China.
  • SC-Lavalin—Engineering company from Quebec was contracted to install Energy Management Systems, used to monitor and control the Sichuan province power transmission network[4]

EUROPEAN UNION

  1. Germany
  • China Southern Power Grid, in a joint venture with Siemens Energy (Germany), announced the opening of a UHV 800kV transmission line around 1,500 km in length. This link takes power from several hydroelectric plants in Yunnan province and transporting the energy to Guangdong Province, with its megacities Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The UHV technology (which paves the way for further exploitation of hydro energy from the Tibetan plateau) has been initiated by Siemens Germany[4].

2. Austria

  • ELIN + JM VOITH AG, two Austrian firms supplied four turbines as well as pumps and steering systems for the Yamdrok Tso project, widely considered to be an eco-disaster. ELIN supplied on-site engineers for the project. The contracts were worth over US$40 million. Both firms have a history of disregarding ethical questions: they were involved in Pak-Mun Dam (Thailand), Cirata Dam (Indonesia), and Mosul Dam in the Kurdish region of Iraq—where the military completely cleared the area of all residents[4].

3. Spain

  • FerroAtlantica, In a joint-venture with a Chinese company, FerroAtlantica is building the world’s largest silicon metal factory, close to Kangding, in Ganzi TAP, on the Tibetan plateau. Silicon is the essential ingredient in computer chips. Power to operate the largest silicon factory in the world: that power will most likely be sourced from a hydroelectric dam close by[4].

4. United Kingdom

  • Rio Tinto, having determined that Tibet was too politically sensitive to handle, Rio Tinto set out to destroy Mongolia instead. The global mining behemoth is setting up shop in Mongolia, with a super-mine at Oyu Tolgoi (copper/gold), under development with Turquoise Hill Resources (headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and previously known as Ivanhoe Mines). Oyu Tolgoi lies in the South Gobi Desert of Mongolia, 80 km north of Mongolia’s border with the People’s Republic of China, where the mined copper is expected to be shipped. This super-mine will most likely destroy the ecology of the grasslands of this region, decimating the livelihood of Mongolian nomads[4].

5. United Kingdom-Netherland Collaboration 

  •  Shell, an Anglo-Dutch company that will be drilling for shale gas in Sichuan Basin, close to Qinghai- Tibet Plateau in the west, signed a US$1-billion deal with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC, the parent company of PetroChina) in 2013 to develop shale gas in China. Shell’s UK chief executive Peter Voser declared plans to be a “leading player” in the fast-growing global fracking business. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is used to release oil and shale gas from rocks by blasting sand, chemicals, and water into them. The practice is controversial because it has been linked to earthquakes and water pollution, but it has also enabled an energy revolution in the US, where new techniques have unleashed a wave of rock-based oil and gas. Shell has significant fracking operations in the US—and has encountered legions of protesters too. Globally, Shell has an abysmal environmental track record. Fracking is banned in France, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, and large parts of Australia and South Africa.

And talking of abysmal environmental track records, the following energy giants are interested in shale-gas and shale-oil extraction in China’s far west

1. BP Amoco (UK-based),
2. ExxonMobil (US-based), and
3. Total French company.

“NOW THE QUESTION WHICH WESTERN CORPORATIONS NEEDS TO ANSWER”

Tibet is under forced military occupation by Communist China. In such a situation, is the Business of mining exploitation by foreign companies an ethical practice?


[1] https://uca.edu/politicalscience/dadm-project/asiapacific-region/chinatibet-1950-present/

[2] http://www.umass.edu/rso/fretibet/education.html

[3] China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States – EveryCRSReport.com

[4] Mining & Canadian Companies, Disturbing Questions: Meltdown in Tibet

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.