Globe and Mail
June 22, 1999
Vote due today on World Bank funds for controversial resettlement (Excerpt)
China is pressing Ottawa to drop its opposition to the granting of a World Bank loan that would pay for the relocation of impoverished ethnic Chinese into Tibetan homelands. Member countries at the Washington-based lending insititution are scheduled to vote today on the $160-million (U.S.) loan. Non-governmental organisations fear that Canada and other countries will soften their opposition to it in llight of a vigourous Chinese lobbying campaign. Canadian government sources said yesterday that the decision still had not been made on whether to vote against the project – which would be a significant diplomatic slap at China – or merely abstain. “Even an abstention is a pretty serious statement of disagreement and concern,” one federal official said. The loan question lands Canada in the middle of a long-standing international dispute over China’s involvement in Tibet. China claims it liberated Tibet in 1951 from oppressive feudalism. Opponents charge that China forcibly annexed an independent country, imposed an army of occupation and ruthlessly oppressed the civil, religious and human rights of Tibetans. Chinese officials have contacted their Canadian counterparts through the embassy in Beijing as well as Canada’s executive director at the World Bank to urge Ottawa not to vote against the project. In the past, the Liberal government has aggressively courted China in order to promote exports and investment, and has avoided criticizing its human-rights record. Sounces said Canada’s representative at the World Bank, Terrie O’Leary, has privately expressed opposition to the loan project to World Bank president James Wolfensohn.