According to a study in Mother Jones, every 10 percent or 11 percent of the so-called miracle growth of the Chinese economy (producing things for Wal-Mart and for export and so on), involves a 15 percent destruction of China’s environment. This includes pollution of the water, pollution of the air, pollution of the food chain, and disruption of the water chain. As a result, they’re having terrible drought-like conditions in North China. This uncontrolled laissez-faire capitalist economic takeoff that the Chinese have done has huge costs. This supposed big miracle — and [one] that is also masterminding in Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia and other places where there is a lot of Chinese investment — will turn out to be an environmental disaster. In Indonesia, this is actually ruining all those countries and destroying their forests and destroying their environment. Tibet should not be subjected to this.
Tibet is the water tower [meaning “source”] of all of Asia, not just China. Although in China the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers both come out of Tibet, so do the Mekong, Salween, Ayeyarwady, Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus rivers. Messing up Tibet’s environment, as the Chinese are now doing, is going to ruin the water, the glacier water, for all of those Asian countries [through which those rivers run, including Laos, Vietnam, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan]. This is a real human disaster. It will be of unprecedented proportions. It will affect billions of people.
When considering the plight of the Tibetan people, is it possible to uncouple their situation from the internal realities of China?
Yes, absolutely. It is uncoupled. It has always been uncoupled. Not a single Chinese person lived lifelong in Tibet before 1950. This is a very key point. So many experts are hesitant to say so because they are so scared of China and their access. Therefore, how can they say they owned it? They would sometimes send some ambassador someplace or some administrator or some tradesperson who would come and go. But the Chinese never lived in Tibet.
Studies by China’s own scientists show that the 14,000-foot average altitude of the high plateau of Tibet makes it very difficult for non-Tibetans to live there for any length of time. You have to have special blood chemistry with a weird way of producing nitric oxide that makes the oxygen stretch through your extremities and makes your organs function with low oxygen. Let the Chinese have their oxygen at sea level. The Chinese will not be able to live in Tibet for long. They are intensively colonizing, they will be there for a few years, and then they will start getting heart disease. You can import infrastructure, but you can’t import more oxygen. Non-Tibetan women have miscarriages in very high numbers because the placenta won’t form properly due to the lack of oxygen. . . . Decoupling China from Tibet is a natural eventuality. It’s not pie in the sky.