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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

The Impact of Beijing's Policies on Tibet and Asia

February 28, 2008

February 28, 2008

The first major report on the impact of the world's highest altitude
railway across the Tibetan plateau reveals how it is changing Tibet,
to the detriment of the Tibetan people and land, and details the
dramatic implications for the whole of Asia.

'Tracking the Steel Dragon: How China's economic policies and the
railroad are transforming Tibet' is embargoed until February 28.
Advance copies are available for press (see below).

Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of the Washington, DC-based
International Campaign for Tibet, said today: "Tibet's new railroad,
hailed as a 'golden path to prosperity' by China, is quite the
opposite. It is the most visible symbol of a political and strategic
agenda aimed both at strengthening the Chinese state's authority and
control over Tibetan areas, and beginning large-scale extraction of
Tibet's natural and mineral resources for the first time. This
coincides with a time in Tibet's history when ordinary Tibetans have
no real say in decision-making on their country's future.

"We are urging governments to call for a proactive, affirmative and
preferential policy towards Tibetans, while foreign investors in Tibet
must implement guidelines that aim to ensure the genuine participation
of Tibetans in the development of their economy."

The railroad from Qinghai to Lhasa is the most high-profile symbol of
China's strategy to develop its western regions, which is one of the
most important dynamics of contemporary China. The aim of its
construction is to expand the influence and consolidate the control of
the Chinese Communist Party, which regards this as crucial to China's
successful rise in the 21st century. As the linchpin of China's plans
to begin large-scale extraction of Tibet's mineral and other natural
resources, the new railroad has changed the dynamic of investment,
drawing foreign corporations to enter the Tibetan economy for the
first time.

China seeks to present an image of progress and prosperity in Tibet to
the outside world. It blocks any dissenting opinion or contradictory
information, leading to a climate of fear about open discussion of the
railway's impact. Despite the increasingly oppressive political
atmosphere in Tibet, 'Tracking the Steel Dragon' uncovers the facts
behind the propaganda, bringing together the views and experiences of
Tibetans, Chinese, foreign scholars and policy-makers with data
gathered from the field.

ICT's new report, 'Tracking the Steel Dragon', documents the immediate
impact of the railroad 19 months from its construction in the context
of China's strategic and economic objectives and shows that Beijing's
policies on the Tibetan plateau are:

# Leading to a 'second invasion' of Tibet by accelerating the influx
of Chinese people;

# Causing the further exclusion of Tibetans from economic activity -
which even some Chinese analysts believe risks provoking the very
despair and opposition among Tibetans feared by the Chinese state in
its quest for 'political stability';

# Damaging Tibet's fragile high-altitude environment, with disturbing
implications for hundreds of millions of people in the entire Asian

# Threatening the extinction of one of the last examples of
sustainable pastoralism on earth, through the enforced settlement of
Tibetan nomads;

# Heightening military readiness on the Tibetan plateau through the
expansion of Chinese influence and construction of civil and military
transport links, causing concern in neighboring India linked to
disputed territory issues in the border areas between the two Asian

# Causing serious concern for the survival of Tibet's culture and
religion, which is integral to Tibetan identity and important not only
to Tibet, but also to China and the wider world;

'Tracking the Steel Dragon: How China's economic policies and the
railroad are transforming Tibet' (260 pages, with more than 40 images
from inside Tibet) is published by ICT on February 28, 2008. For an
advance pdf copy, please contact:
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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