BP complicity in China's exploitation of Tibet

Tuesday, 16 April 2002

BP Complicity in China's Exploitation of Tibet: Campaigners Set Sights on company AGM after BP stonewalls rights groups
(Photocall: 10am 18 April, Royal Festival Hall, Riverside Level 1)

[LONDON] Tibet campaigners have pledged to highlight at this week's BP AGM (18 April) how the company's collaboration with PetroChina makes BP complicit in abusive policies in Chinese occupied Tibet. China's plans for the exploitation of Tibet's natural resources, carried out by PetroChina, are overtly designed to consolidate its political control of the oppressed nation and her people. BP remains PetroChina's largest foreign shareholder (see note 1).

In a letter sent to BP in the lead up to the AGM, members of a Tibet campaign coalition (see note 2) have reiterated their fundamental objection to BP's ongoing involvement with PetroChina and criticised BP's stonewalling of the legitimate concerns of human rights groups and shareholders over PetroChina's operations and the Sebei-Lanzhou pipeline in Tibet in particular.

A Special Resolution at last year's AGM, calling on BP to divest from PetroChina, received the backing of shareholders who represent 627.5 million shares, with a market value of 3.8 billion pounds. In the year since the AGM, BP appears to have simply disregarded these shareholders' concerns with no tangible efforts made on behalf of its commitment to human rights. Shareholders, Tibet supporters, Tibetans and Uyghurs alike, were led to believe that BP was committed to carrying out projects in accordance with the company's, and ultimately the shareholders', publicly noted standards on environmental protection and human rights. Without evidence of positive change, campaigners question how BP is able to espouse these values whilst at the same time maintaining a very active and ongoing involvement with PetroChina.

"Despite the significant support for Tibet last year, BP has chosen to brush these legitimate concerns under the carpet." said Alison Reynolds of Free Tibet Campaign. "This leads us to draw two conclusions: either BP tried and was unable to keep its commitment to shareholders, in which case it should divest its holding in PetroChina immediately, or the company made promises it never intended to keep or chose to relegate. But rather than jeopardise commercial interests, BP has chosen to quietly forget its commitments to its shareholders, its human rights policy and us."

For more information contact: Alison Reynolds, 020 7833 9958, mobile 07711 843884

Post AGM press briefing: Immediately after the conclusion of the AGM, campaigners will be available in Coffee Bar 51, Level 1 (Ground floor) of the Royal Festival Hall.

Notes:

1. BP rescued PetroChina's floundering Initial Public Offering in March 2000 with a purchase of a fifth of the available shares, at a cost to the company of $578 million. Tibet campaigners' opposition to this investment in PetroChina and to the Sebei Lanzhou pipeline is because gas, oil and pipeline projects in Tibet will:

Deplete natural resources without consultation with, and deriving little or no benefit to the Tibetan people.
Employ a sizeable and disproportionate number of Chinese and other non-Tibetans.
Consolidate Chinese control and occupation of Tibet as well as increase the Chinese government's justification for maintaining control.
Facilitate the transfer of Chinese settlers or workers to Tibetan areas, causing erosion of Tibetan culture, language, traditions and religion.
Negatively affect the sustainability of Tibet's ecosystems.
Employ only a few Tibetans in unskilled labour positions.

Very similar concerns exist over the imminent West-East pipeline from East Turkestan (Xinjiang) to Shanghai. Although BP backed out of the bidding process to be a partner in this massive project, as PetroChina's largest foreign shareholder, it remains uniquely involved in the company's activities.

2. Members of the campaign coalition are:

Free Tibet Campaign www.freetibet.org
International Campaign for Tibet www.savetibet.org
The Milarepa Fund www.milarepa.org
Students for a Free Tibet www.tibet.org/sft
US Tibet Committee www.ustibet.org