A thirst for power: China in Tibet
1st June, 2004
Since colonising Tibet in 1959, China has ripped out virgin forests, dug up minerals and metals, and dumped nuclear waste with little regard for the fragile ecology of the Tibetan plateau.
To date, warnings from Tibetans and their advocates abroad about the damage caused by half a century of unchecked exploitation have so far been largely unheeded by the international community, but the latest stage of China’s development is set to end the silence the Chinese Communist Party has interpreted as global approval for its quest for wealth and power.
There’s not much left in Qinghai these days. Gone are the roaming herds of Tibetan antelope, white-lipped deer, Mongolian gazelle, wild oxen and donkeys. Deep craters scar the earth, which is no longer a lush carpet of grass and wildflowers. Few birds wing across the deep blue sky and any water that is left in the mostly dried-up river beds is black and deadly. There are hardly any people here, apart from a few poachers on motorcycles who slaughter the remnants of the once-great herds of Tibetan antelope, or chiru, for the fine fur that makes illegal shahtoosh shawls for the graceful necks of the fashionable demimonde.
Springs that used to refresh nomads and their herds of sheep, goats, yaks and horses have disappeared, grassland has been replaced by rocky desert, mountainsides have collapsed and the surface of the arid earth is...
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