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October 23rd 2005
Published: October 24th 2005
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Dalai Lama: Rail Link 'Cultural Genocide'
AP September 12th, 2005

HAILEY, Idaho — A rail link being built between Tibet and several major Chinese cities could lead to "cultural genocide" by luring more Chinese workers to the region, the Dalai Lama said.

Tibet's spiritual leader said following a speech in Idaho Sunday that more pressure will be placed on native Tibetans by the rail line scheduled for completion in 2007.
"Some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," the Dalai Lama told reporters. "In general, a railway link is very useful in order to develop, but not when politically motivated to bring about demographic change."

Increasing numbers of ethnic Han Chinese have been moving to Tibet in recent years to work in construction and other booming government industries. Tibetans, working mostly in traditional pursuits such as farming and herding, are struggling to keep up amid what Amnesty International and other human rights groups have denounced as repression and racial bias.

Chinese officials have denied adopting a policy of migration to squeeze out Tibetans and say any income disparities among ethnic groups stem from Han Chinese opting for service jobs while Tibetans prefer lower paid

At a recent awareness campaign and Bombardier protest, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, Oct. 2005.
farm work.

a map and more background information:

Bombardier draws fire over Chinese rail project

by Peter Hadekel, The Montreal Gazette April 15th, 2005

Social responsibility is an issue corporations ignore at their peril, as Bombardier Inc. is discovering.

The transportation giant is the target of an international lobbying campaign aimed at stopping its involvement in a controversial $3.3-billion (U.S.) rail project in Chinese-occupied Tibet.

Bombardier announced in February, 2005, that a joint venture it has formed has won a contract to supply 361 rail cars for the new train line being built to link the city of Lhasa in Tibet with eastern China. Bombardier's share of the deal is worth $78 million.

Once it's completed in 2007, the line is expected to bring an overwhelming influx of Chinese settlers into Tibet - as many as 100,000 per month.

This resettlement could swamp the Tibetan population of 6 million and establish facts on the ground that would make the goal of Tibetan autonomy from China harder to achieve.

Tenzin Dargyal, president of the Canada Tibet
Committee, ...(said) that the lobbying campaign will also target two other Canadian corporations in the project.

Power Corp. of Montreal is a joint-venture partner in the railway, along with state-owned China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Corp. And Nortel Networks Corp. has been selected to supply a digital wireless communications system for the line, which traverses the Himalayan plateau at altitudes of up to 5,000 metres.

Asked about the rail contract during a recent conference call to discuss financial results, Bombardier Transportation president Andre Navarri said the company does not "comment on politics."

Bombardier official Helene Gagnon said a contract of this kind would not go through a risk-assessment process because the company is acting as a supplier rather than a project manager.

The (Canada Tibet Committee) coalition's efforts might seem like a long shot, but Dargyal points to a string of recent successes by Tibet support groups:

In 2000, the World Bank withdrew a loan that would have allowed China to resettle a portion of Tibet with agricultural migrants.

Last year, oil giant BP divested its stake in PetroChina, China's largest state-owned oil company, after intense criticism of the company's involvement in a proposed $578-million gas pipeline in Tibet.

And the Holiday Inn hotel chain in 1997 withdrew from a partnership in a luxury hotel in Lhasa after criticism of its participation.


June 7, 2005

Montreal - “As a Tibetan and a Quebecer, I’m ashamed that Bombardier is helping the Chinese government build the railway,” said Tenzin Dargyal, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. “I support development in Tibet, but not development that is imposed by Beijing and principally serves the interests of the Chinese Communist Party, rather than the great majority of Tibetans.”

Slated to begin test runs in 2006, the railway threatens to increase environmental pressure on Tibet’s high-altitude ecosystem, bolster China's military strength in the region, and facilitate the entry of large numbers of Chinese settlers onto Tibetan lands, further marginalizing Tibetans socially and economically. Many Tibetans see the railway as the final phase in China's strategy to wipe out Tibetan identity and culture.

“To Tibetans inside Tibet, the railway is a death sentence,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “The Chinese government already encourages Chinese settlers to move into Tibet in order to assimilate Tibetans and eliminate their resistance to Chinese rule. The railway will increase this population transfer exponentially, posing a dire threat to Tibetans’ survival as a people.”

“ Bombardier takes no responsibility for the fact that Tibetans have not been consulted about whether they even want the railroad to be built. No matter the impact on Tibetan people or lands, they have told us there is ‘no way’ they will pull out,” said Mary Beth Markey, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet. “Yet the project contradicts Bombardier’s own Code of Ethics and the International Union of Public Transport Charter on Sustainable Development, to which Bombardier claims to be a ‘full signatory’.”

The coalition, led by the Canada Tibet Committee, International Campaign for Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet, first expressed its concerns to Bombardier in October 2002. At the time, the company replied that it was “not involved” and had “taken good note of your arguments against this project”. In February of this year however, Bombardier, the world's biggest maker of train equipment, abruptly announced its intention to build and deliver 361 railcars to China for the widely criticized project between December 2005 and May 2006.

Background Information

One of the most threatening projects undertaken by the Chinese government in Tibet is construction of a railway from Gormo to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, that will connect Tibet for the first time with China’s nationwide railway grid. The project is part of China’s “Western Development Campaign,” which aims to consolidate China’s political and military power over Tibet. Now, four companies - Canada’s Bombardier, Power Corporation, and Nortel, and U.S. corporate giant GE - have announced their involvement.

Bombardier, a manufacturer of airplanes, recreational vehicles and rail transportation equipment, will lead a consortium that includes Power Corporation of Canada, a financial holding company, and state-owned China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry (Group) Corporation, to supply the Chinese Ministry of Railways with 361 specially designed rail cars for the Tibet line. Nortel Networks, a global telecommunications provider, will supply a digital wireless communications network (GSM-R), while GE will build the locomotives for the train.

By partnering the Chinese government on the construction of the railway, these businesses have made themselves partners in China’s occupation of Tibet.

As with previous railways built in Mongolia and East Turkestan, the Tibet railway will greatly speed colonization of the area. It will allow vastly increased numbers of Chinese settlers and military troops to be brought in, and more natural resources to be exploited and removed from Tibet, with most economic benefits bypassing the many Tibetans who live on the outskirts of Tibet's centrally controlled economy, beyond the reach of the railway. The cost of the railway is almost triple the amount Beijing spent in the Tibet Autonomous Region on healthcare and education between 1952 and 2000.

What Can you Do?

These companies are all susceptible to pressure from individuals - as consumers and as the employers of government representatives who help them get wealthy. Please contact the companies by calling them, or sending letters by mail or fax Tell them not to fund China's colonization of Tibet!

Talking points:

1. At the admission of Chinese government leaders, the Gormo-Lhasa railway is politically motivated , with a goal of consolidating China's control over Tibet. It is opposed by Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet.

2. The railway will facilitate increased population transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet, further marginalizing Tibetans physically, socially, and economically and posing a threat to the survival of their culture and identity.

3. The railway will facilitate the exploitation and removal of natural resources that belong to Tibetans.

4. The railway will improve China's military maneuverability, enable rapid troop deployments, and facilitate the expansion of People's Liberation Army bases and increases in nuclear weapons stockpiles and missile deployments on the Tibetan plateau.

5. The railway is expected to cause widespread erosion, damage to vegetation, disruption of migration patterns, and contamination of water bodies including the Drichu (Yangtse), Ngochu (Salween), and Zachu (Mekong) rivers, sources of water for more than one billion people.

6. Western companies should not be partnering the Chinese government in this scheme.

for archived news on the railway:

When I travelled from Gormo/ Golmud to Lhasa, the bus often paralleled the newly built train line. It was nearly completed in most places, with some bridges remaining to be finished. However, since that time (July, 2005) they have done test-runs on the line, so it is only a matter of time before the finishing touches and acquiring of all of the necessary train parts allow for the passenger line to begin.

As mentioned in articles above, most Tibetans are sceptical at the least and more often quite plainly unhappy about the prospective line. My Lhasa students, when questioned, revealed their fears to be of theft and disease, with an increase of Chinese migrants who lead completely different life-styles than most Tibetans (as evidenced by the explosion of prostitution in Lhasa since the Chinese occupation).

Tibetans in Dharamsala, India, echo the above-mentioned worries, population transfer being among the highest of their concerns, with an increase of unemployment following as a great concern. They also worry about the degradation of the environment and the robbing of minerals, as they are mined and transported out and away from the people the line is said to benefit.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) has been another of the groups to loudly voice itself (along with Canada Tibet Committee), staging demonstrations at the Bombardier offices in Canada and India, as well as organising various on-line protests and call-ins to Bombardier and to high-ranking government officials. November 3rd is the date for a major protest: phone-in, fax-in, virtual petitioning, and vivid photo-protests of Bombardier's involvement are but some of the ways the voices of the outraged will be heard and seen.

At a recent concert to promote AIDS awareness in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, SFT used the venue and large gathering to also stage a protest and awareness campaign against Bombardier's involvement.

for ideas on how to help:


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