By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, May 6: United States Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife Teresa Hienz have reportedly invested in a dozen companies in China, one of which is headquartered in Tibet and exploits Tibet’s natural resource and undermines the ecology of the region, reported the Washington based Daily Caller News Foundation.
“HFI Imperial”, the investment front for the Hienz family trust has invested in ‘Tibet 5100 Water Resources Ltd’ or “Tibet Water’, a Chinese-owned and operated bottled water company that has its plant in Tibet, the DCNF reported. The high - end brand is seen as a competitor for international brands like Perrier and Evian in the European bottled-water market.
The company headquartered inside Tibetan Autonomous Region in Tibet harvests water for commercial bottling effectively tapping into the water reserves of the region. The “siphoning” of the natural reserves could have severe environmental consequences of the area, experts say.
Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet says, “The control of the bottled water industry in Tibet by Chinese businesses, without the involvement and consultation of the Tibetan people, is another dangerous example of the exploitation by Beijing and of the lack of any kind of meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people under Chinese rule.”
The close connection of the company to the Chinese government is especially alarming as Senator Kerry is an outspoken spokesperson for human rights issues. Tibet Water was the “official drinking water” of the 11th National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as well as the 17th and 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
A US government official questioning the moral quality of the financial commitments told DCNF, “This shows what they are willing to invest in to enhance their family’s wealth and that sends a message in terms of public policy. If you’re to invest in tobacco stocks, when you invest in what various human rights group indicate are antithetical to the interests of indigenous people like the Tibetans, those raise questions about the moral quality of the investments that are being made. It’s appropriate for the public to be asking questions.”
“We urge Secretary Kerry to ensure that this investment comes to an end immediately. It is unfortunate now that through this fund, Secretary Kerry’s family — knowingly or not — is supporting a Chinese business, which is exploiting a Tibetan resource and doing harm to its environment,” Alistair Currie, from the Tibetan advocacy group Free Tibet said.
Tibet’s 37,000 glaciers and its water output are considered freshwater bank account of Asia by experts. Exploitative private pursuits such as the “Tibet Water” and state owned river diverting projects and excessive damming is threatening Asia’s survival, studies say.