NGO Free Tibet launched an international campaign in London on Thursday to persuade investors to stop funding a company that produces bottled water in Tibet. A protest targeted investors at the Chinese company which produces the popular Tibet Spring 5100 bottled water brand.

The British non-profit initiated the campaign to draw attention to the threat posed to Tibet’s resources by the rapidly expanding bottled water industry.

Protesters gathered to encourage London based BlackRock to divest in Tibet Water Resources Ltd

Free Tibet Director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said, “The bottled water ‘gold rush’ in Tibet isn’t just a scramble for profit but threatens hundreds of millions of people across Asia.”

Tibet Spring 5100 began bottling in Tibet in 2006, and was the official drinking water for the National People’s Congress in 2007, and the Communist Party Congress in 2012. Between 2011 and 2013, the company received more than 360 million yuan in government subsidies, according to Free Tibet. In 2014, under an initiative called “Sharing Tibet’s water with the world”, the regional government of the Tibet Autonomous Region signed contracts with sixteen major companies intending to bottle Tibetan water and the next year set a target of producing 10 million tonnes of bottled water by 2025.

File photo: HKFP.

“China is plundering Tibet for natural resources from rare earths to the most basic and essential of all,” Byrne-Rosengren said. “Tibet’s water is not an infinitely renewable resource and thanks to melting glaciers and China paving Tibet’s mountains with dams, now is the worst possible time to turn it into a consumer product.”

A recent study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed that if Tibet’s glaciers continue to melt at their current rate, over two-thirds will be gone by 2050, the NGO reported.

Of the eight shareholding institutions contacted by Free Tibet, only one has thus far confirmed that it is no longer holding shares in the company.

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