Oct 02, 2018

Tibet: Chinese Government’s Activities Destroying the Local Environment, Say Exiled Parliament

Chinese economic activities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have become a source of concern for members of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, who, at an event in Mumbai, have expressed fears over the risk of environmental degradation in the region. Chinese activities include the building of roads, railways and mixed settlements, as well as mining and the building of dams to control water resources. According to Youdon Aukatsang, the consequences of the effects of these activities over the area’s ecological balance can reach not only India, who has already expressed concerns over Chinese dam building on the Brahmaputra River, but also the whole region. Ms Youdon Aukatsang has noted that their primary source of information are people inside Tibet, who are targeted in efforts to assimilate them into Chinese culture, all while having their region’s environment destroyed by short-term vision of promoting coastal China’s development. Ms. Aukatsang has also referred to information that indicates the repression of protests against these activities by the Chinese government.

The article below was published by the NDTV:

Members of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile are visiting Mumbai to create awareness about the environmental degradation in Tibet due to China's activities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or the Tibetan Plateau.

Speaking at an event in Mumbai, Youdon Aukatsang, and Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile expressed fears over the ecological balance of the region being in peril due to mining and dam building activities that have far reaching consequences not only for India but for the entire region.

Over the last few years, in an effort to bring around change in the demographics of Tibet, China has embarked on an economic activity spree, which not only includes building roads, railways and mixed settlements but also mining and dam building to control water resources. Ms Aukatsang told NDTV that she had information that protests against these activities are being muzzled by the Chinese government.

India, as a riparian state, has expressed concerns to China repeatedly about various dams being built by China in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) on the Brahmaputra River, which is known in China as Yarlung Tsangpo. The Zangmu dam over the Brahmaputra, which has been partly operational since 2014, has raised serious concerns in India as more such dams are being planned or constructed by China on the trans-border river in Tibet.

"Most of our sources of information are primary sources of Tibetans living inside Tibet. Since 2008 we have had very few Tibetans escaping Tibet. Now every year we have maybe about 300 or 400 but before 2008 we used to have almost 3000 people escaping every year," Ms Aukatsang said.

She also said the people in Tibet are their primary source of information. From them, the Parliament has come to know that there is a lot of population transfer which is the whole policy is of sinicization of the Tibetan plateau.

Ms Aukatsang claimed that China wants to make Tibetan people as Chinese as possible assimilate them into their culture and destroy the Tibetan environment to their own advantage to their short term vision of kind of developing china so they are doing that.

China has said the projects are scientifically planned to ensure that there is no impact on water flows to downstream while asserting what it calls "just and legitimate" right over the water resources originating in Tibet.

Speaking about the long term impact these mining and dam building projects will have on India, Ms Aukatsang told NDTV, "Unfortunately, we being a government in exile we do not have recognition legally but we tend to attend all the COP 12, COP 21, Paris conference on climate change. We go to all these conferences but we are also present at parallel NGO conferences where we create awareness on how what is happening inside Tibet is very important to take note of. We have a Tibet third pole campaign that is done by the International Tibet Support Group and also we do work on climate change issues."


Photo courtesy of Andrew Smith