Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tibet , The Olympic Torch, & the Brahmaputra River

Well, Beijing is using a heavy hand in Tibet as Beijing continues to take control of the country. There are lots of reasons for this, one of them being that they want no bad publicity for the 2008 Olympics. Another one being that Tibetens resent the huge influxes of Han Chinese who are taking over their cities and the environmental abuses done by mining and water projects.

China restricts Mount Everest ascents to clear the way for the Olympic torch


BEIJING - China is denying mountaineers permission to climb its side of Mount Everest this spring, a move that critics say reflects government concern that Tibet activists may try to disrupt plans to carry the Olympic torch to the world's tallest peak.

Taking the Olympic flame to Everest's 8,850-metre summit is shaping up to be one of the grandest and most politicized feats of an already politicized Beijing Games.

The relay directly touches on one of China's most sensitive issues: its often harsh 57-year-rule over Tibet.

Beijing contends Tibet is historically part of China.

But many Tibetans argue the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and accuse China of trying to crush Tibetan culture by swamping it with Han people, the majority Chinese ethnic group.

Tibetan activist groups have criticized the Olympic torch run up Everest as an attempt by Beijing to add legitimacy to Chinese control of Tibet.

A letter sent this week by the government's China Tibet Mountaineering Association to expedition companies said climbs of Everest and Mount Cho-Oyu, which straddle the border between Chinese-controlled Tibet and Nepal, should be postponed until after May 10.

The letter, which was posted on a foreign mountaineering website and verified Wednesday by the association, cited "heavy climbing activities" as among the reasons.

But mountaineering groups, incensed by the decision, said the main reason is the torch relay ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

"No matter whether you're an individual or a group, it's impossible to get permission to climb the mountain" from March to June, said Li Hua of the Tibet Polar Land Exploration Tourist Co. in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

Plans to bring the torch to the summit are shrouded in secrecy, but preparations made by the Beijing Olympic organizers point to an early May ascent.

Activists have, in the past, unfurled banners at the Everest base camp and the Great Wall of China calling for Tibet's independence.

In a sign of the inflamed passions surrounding Tibet, some 300 Buddhist monks staged a demonstration in Lhasa this week, the largest protest march in nearly two decades. Separately in India, several hundred Tibetan exiles tried to get past Indian police and launch a protest march to Tibet to coincide with the Olympics.

"Beijing is using the Olympics torch ceremony, which should stand for human freedoms and dignity, to bolster its territorial claim over Tibet," John Ackerly, president of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, said in a statement.

China-India Clash Over Chinese Claims to Tibetan Water

Brahma Chellaney

New Delhi — Sharpening Asian competition over energy resources, driven in part by high growth rates in gross domestic product and in part by mercantilist attempts to lock up supplies, has obscured another danger: Water shortages in much of Asia are beginning to threaten rapid economic modernization, prompting the building of upstream projects on international rivers. If water geopolitics were to spur interstate tensions through reduced water flows to neighboring states, the Asian renaissance could stall.

Water has emerged as a key issue that could determine whether Asia is headed toward mutually beneficial cooperation or deleterious interstate competition. No country could influence that direction more than China, which controls the Tibetan plateau — the source of most major rivers of Asia.

Tibet's vast glaciers and high altitude have endowed it with the world's greatest river systems. Its river waters are a lifeline to the world's two most-populous states — China and India — as well as to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, Pakistan, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries make up 47 percent of the global population.

Yet Asia is a water-deficient continent. Although home to more than half of the human population, Asia has less fresh water — 3,920 cubic meters per person — than any continent besides Antarctica.

The looming struggle over water resources in Asia has been underscored by the spread of irrigated farming, water-intensive industries (from steel to paper making) and a growing middle class seeking high water-consuming comforts like washing machines and dishwashers. Household water consumption in Asia is rising rapidly, according to a 2006 U.N. report, but such is the water paucity that not many Asians can aspire to the lifestyle of Americans, who daily use 400 liters per person, or more than 2.5 times the average in Asia.

The specter of water wars in Asia is also being highlighted by climate change and environmental degradation in the form of shrinking forests and swamps, which foster a cycle of chronic flooding and droughts through the depletion of nature's water storage and absorption cover. The Himalayan snow melt that feeds Asia's great rivers could be damagingly accelerated by global warming.

1 comment:

  1. The Olympics are overrated anyway. We emphasize spectator sports way too much. Sports participation and exercise should be the big deal.

    No wonder America is so obese.