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China's WTO Entry will undermine Human Rights in Tibet

November 08, 2001

Montreal: China's entry into the WTO will further undermine development in Tibet including the ability of Tibetans to protect their human rights. Accelerated liberalisation unconstrained by social protections will place added pressure on Tibet's fragile economy and environment and do nothing to address increased repression and intimidation of the Tibetan people by Chinese occupying forces. Moreover, the Tibetan people are powerless to do anything about it.

An announcement of China's accession is expected during the Fourth WTO Ministerial taking place November 9-15 in Doha, Qatar.

"The Tibetan people have been excluded from the accession negotiation process", said Thubten Samdup, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. "Under WTO rules, an independent Tibet could have benefited from special implementation guidelines provided for the world's least developed countries. China's deal is bad for Tibet"

Tibetans fear that under China's accession arrangement, Beijing authorities will use increased western investment as a two-edged sword; to consolidate their grip on the disputed territory and also to exploit Tibet's natural resources. The Chinese name for Tibet - Zhizang - translates as "western treasure house".

Samdup also accused Canada of blindly endorsing China's much criticised "western development strategy (WDS)" which Beijing promotes as a means of avoiding "social unrest in a region of minority peoples". The February 2001 Team Canada Mission to China prioritized western development opportunities for Canadian business and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is currently providing millions of dollars in technical assistance to develop China's capacity to export Tibet's oil and gas reserves to the industrialized but energy-starved eastern provinces.

CIDA has also come under fire for its so-called poverty-relief project in Tibet that excluded input from the Tibetan government-in-exile and ignored recommendations submitted by the Canada Tibet Committee. Human rights advocates say the project is really about developing a competitive advantage for private Canadian investment.

"China's WTO accession threatens the Tibetan people's right to self-determination" Samdup said, "there should be rules about trading arrangements in disputed territories. Canada's wholesale endorsement of China's economic policy in Tibet is not acceptable". # # #

Contact: Thubten Samdup (514) 867-6770 (cell) NEW: Trade and Human Rights on the Tibetan Plateau: A Cautionary View for Canadian Business Available at (Publications)

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