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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetans Detail Chinese Exploitation of Their Homeland's Environment

December 11, 2007

By Steve Herman
New Delhi
Voice of America
10 December 2007


Tibetan exiles say China's exploitation of the Himalayan land is
degrading the environment and will have an impact beyond Tibet. They say
they believe China will be forced to respond to their accusations
because of the current world-wide attention on the environment. VOA's
Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

A report by the Tibetan government-in-exile contends Beijing's policy of
building large-scale infrastructure projects is destroying the fragile
Tibetan grasslands and displacing pastoral nomads.

The government-in exile's secretary of information and international
relations, Sonam Dagpo, told reporters here Monday that the problems
highlighted in its report will have an impact far beyond Tibet.

"This report is not to shame China but to ... highlight the problems
which we face in Tibet," he said. "And it's not only for the Tibetan
people. Tibet being one of the highest plateaus in the world - we call
it 'the roof of the world' - it's the source of all the major rivers of
Asia. Whatever impacts in Tibet, it impacts Asia and the world."

The United Nations says more than half of the world's population depends
on water from the Tibetan plateau.

The Tibetans' report says plans for hydroelectric dams in Tibet will
mean decreasing water supplies in India and Bangladesh, and as far away
as Vietnam. It says these projects are meant to supply electricity to
Chinese cities, not to address Tibet's water and electrical needs.

The Tibetans, who operate their government-in-exile from the northern
Indian city of Dharamsala, say the roads, railways and bridges that
Beijing is building to exploit Tibet's natural resources are destroying
a traditional culture that the Chinese regard as out of step with the
modern era.

Kate Saunders is the spokesperson for the U.S.-based International
Campaign for Tibet. She says despite the central government's previous
refusal to acknowledge warnings of environmental destruction in Tibet,
the topic is being discussed within Chinese society. "From a central
level there's intransigence," she says, "but on different levels,
multiple levels within Chinese society, it's still possible to make some
headway and have some discussion on environment."

The activists acknowledge that Tibetan warnings have been ignored by
Beijing before. But they say that with climate change now a major issue
on the world stage, they are finding it easy to locate scientists and
environmentalists who will help to bring pressure on Beijing.

The 250-page report is likely to be viewed by Beijing as a political
attack on it by followers of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual
leader in exile, who the Chinese leaders regard as a separatist.

The Dalai Lama said last month that the Chinese government has begun
steps to limit deforestation in Tibet, but he said corruption is
hampering the effort.
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