BP pulls out of West-East pipeline project (Press Release FTC)

Free Tibet Campaign 1 Rosoman Place, London EC1R 0JY Phone 44 (0)20 7833 9958 Fax 44 (0)20 7833 3838 e.mail: mail@freetibet.org

Press Release September 7, 2001

BP pulls out of West-East pipeline project: Tibet campaigners urge Shell and Exxon to do likewise and call on BP to withdraw from PetroChina

Tibet campaigners welcome today's announcement by BP plc that it will not be submitting a bid for China's 'West-East' pipeline project, but urge the company to go one step further and withdraw from its investment in PetroChina.

"We hope that the underlying reason for BP's withdrawal from the West-East pipeline is a recognition that it would be impossible to carry it out in a way that meets their commitments to human rights - and we call on Shell and Exxon to do the same" said Alison Reynolds, Director of Free Tibet Campaign. "But BP must also apply these commitments to their strategic investments in China, and that means withdrawing from PetroChina as a whole." she added.

Free Tibet Campaign and its partner organisations in the United States* had written to BP, Shell and Exxon to express concern at their interest in the West-East pipeline, which is planned to transport natural gas from the occupied Uyghur territories of East Turkestan (Chinese: Xinjiang) to Shanghai. These concerns were expressed publicly at the BP AGM in April, when Tibet campaigners, with support from Uyghurs, tabled a shareholder resolution calling for the company's divestment from PetroChina. The West-East pipeline is part of China's politically motivated 'Western Economic Development Strategy', designed to consolidate its control of the occupied western regions. Like the Sebei-Lanzhou pipeline in Tibet, the project will facilitate the migration of Han Chinese into East Turkestan, further marginalising the Uyghur population and undermining their religious and cultural identity.

"China's strategy presents a serious threat to my people. I am glad that BP will not be a part of the West-East pipeline, but if they mean what they say about human rights, they should pull out of their investment in PetroChina" said Dr Enver Tohti, a Uyghur living in London.

BP, Shell and Exxon have been informed of the difficulties in carrying out adequate social and environmental impact assessments: a lesson the World Bank learned well last year, when its own Inspection Panel documented a "climate of fear" in a proposed resettlement site in Tibet. Anyone who expresses dissent against a State-sponsored project, is opposing Government policy and risks reprisals.

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

*The Milarepa Fund, the International Campaign for Tibet,
Students for a Free Tibet and the US Tibet Committee.