PetroChina (call for action)

Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 01:28:02 -0400 (EDT)

Dear All,

(Note: The event that is the subject of this e-mail will [hopefully not!] happen on April 6, this Thursday, so if you want to take action [eg, send an e-mail] on this problem, which draws together such issues as Sudan's horrific civil war, self-determination of the people of Tibet, the environment, and workers' rights, please read this e-mail promptly.)
The phenomenon of companies playing central roles in violating people's human rights -- and as many of you know, I use this term in the broadest sense -- is not a new one, but it is one that is gaining much attention of late. This is no wonder, as multi-national corporations becoming increasingly prominent and powerful. Many of the companies act responsibly, but sadly, some act in every way but.
One company that falls into the latter category is PetroChina, a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Petroleum Company. PetroChina is due to list their Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange this Thursday, April 6. Success for PetroChina will be a loss for the rest of us. Success for PetroChina will help it finance, among other things, Sudan's civil war, damage to fragile ecosystems of Tibet and the exploitation of Tibet's resources, violations of workers' rights, and increased oil extraction at a time when we urgently need to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Details on these and other activities are below.
Please e-mail Arthur Levitt, the Chair of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), calling on him to use his authority to delay PetroChina's listing. Information on e-mailing him and others is below (last part of this e-mail).
I apologize for the length of this e-mail, but the issue is complex and important. A sample e-mail to the SEC Chair is included. Please pass this message on. For as ever, the more of us who call for justice, the sooner it is that justice will answer the call.
Thank you as always for your time (please see below),



"I have only dreams: to build a better world, a world of harmony and understanding, a world in which it is a joy to live. This is not asking for too much." -- Yitzhak Rabin

---------- Forwarded message ----------
China, last fall, officially decided to start a large scale exploitation of Tibet's natural resources to "develop" the region. With this in mind, China is seeking international funds to support these ventures. Tibetans hope to stop this exploitation and are asking the international community for assistance. Below is a call to stop international investment in PetroChina....

Janice Mantell
ICLT Executive Director

Issues: Human Rights
PetroChina/CNPC's "Blue Nile" Sudan project helps underwrite the Sudanese government's brutal civil war, aimed against the largely Christian southern portion of the country in which two million innocent civilians have died. U.S. Government and press reports document the use of oil project airstrips and facilities in the war, including the bombing of hospitals.


PetroChina's "domestic" activities and plans involve expanded oil and natural gas extraction in occupied Tibet which will further the Chinese government's oppression of Tibetans while damaging their fragile environment. Accompanied by a massive population transfer of Chinese oil workers, this pattern of economic colonization by Beijing transfers wealth out of Tibet while undermining the Tibetan people's struggle for self-determination.


The PetroChina prospectus acknowledges that proceeds may be used for massive layoffs. The Chinese government bans independent labor unions, preventing workers from having a voice in this process. One of the oft-stated rationales of US-China investment proponents is US dollars will somehow lead to greater freedoms. But when investment supports state-owned enterprises without labor rights, civil society is undermined.


China's weak laws governing environment and public participation, coupled with a shocking history of oil spills, sets the stage for environmental disaster. PetroChina's plans to cut costs while increasing oil and gas activities may put fragile ecosystems, diverse species, and traditional communities at significant risk.


PetroChina, a newly formed "domestic" subsidiary of the colossal state-owned China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), is due to list their Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange next Thursday, APRIL 6th. The lead underwriters, Goldmann-Sachs Group Inc., initially hoped to raise $10 billion to fund the construction of a 7,000 mile pipeline from the Tsaidam Basin of Tibet to Shanghai, to fund the downsizing of millions of workers by parent company CNPC, and to support the CNPC's greater expansion objectives abroad - including in the Sudan where China has been complicit in the slaughter of more than 2 million Sudanese Christians.

Against all odds, a broad coalition of groups including the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet and other Tibetan rights organizations and activists, the AFL-CIO, anti-slavery groups, and environmental organizations have succeeded in generating a maelstrom of protest that has driven PetroChina's target listing from $10 billion down to $2.8 billion dollars. We have, among other things, persuaded investors and public pension funds that control more than $1 trillion in assets - including giants CalPERS and TIAA-CREF -- to commit to not investing in the deal and we have made PetroChina the most politically risky investment on the public market in more than two decades. BUT THERE IS MORE TO BE DONE AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Much like the proposed World Bank resettlement project, the PetroChina deal will set a sinister precedent for destructive development of the Tibetan Plateau for Chinese interests. If PetroChina is successful it will pave the way for China to list similar deals on international markets and Tibet's future will be for sale to the highest bidder.

We have only until April 6th to stop this deal!

1. SEND THE SAMPLE LETTER BELOW TO ARTHUR LEVITT, the Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission, and demand that he put the PetroChina offering into a "cooling-off period." This type of delay will allow ample opportunity for the SEC to review the numerous securities violations and to achieve greater transparency of the risks involved with the deal -- and is our best shot at stopping the deal all together! A sample e-mail is below, and a longer sample e-mail letter is available at

You might cc your e-mail to Senator Judd Gregg, NH: and Senator Ted Stevens, AK:, Levitt's "Bosses" on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and Commerce Sub- committee.

2. CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE in Congress and ask him/her to urge the House Commerce Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations to conduct emergency hearings on the PetroChina IPO. The Securities Exchange Commission is accountable to the US Congress and a hearing is our best chance of exposing the fatal flaws in this deal so it can be stopped. To find out who your House Representative is, visit 3. WRITE YOUR STATE TREASURER and ask that your State pension fund and other state controlled investments do not buy PetroChina stock. It is crucial that public funds are not used to invest in this risky and unprincipled company. It is also critical that State Treasurers are educated about the severe implications of this deal, so that future attempts by the Chinese government to list companies exploiting resources in Tibet will not be able to move forward. To find out who your State Treasurer is, visit, or check in your local telephone directory.

Thank you for your help!

Email sample letter to Arthur Levitt, Chairman, Securities Exchange Commission:

Dear Chairman Levitt:

I am writing regarding the PetroChina IPO due to list on the New York Stock Exchange this Thursday, April 6, 2000. The PetroChina project poses serious environmental for Tibetan communities and could result in increased human rights violations. Moreover, PetroChina has omitted or inadequately disclosed material information in its SEC registration statement. These areas include:

  • Lack of disclosure regarding political risks
  • Inadequate disclosure regarding technology and capital expenditures
  • Inadequate disclosure regarding future financing
  • Inadequate disclosure regarding below-market debt
  • Inappropriate characterization of parent company China National Petroleum Company.

These issues are material to financial decision-making and merit further investigation by the SEC. We encourage the Commission to adopt a "cooling off period" to ensure that these issues receive further review and ultimately, adequate disclosure. I hope you will do everything within your power to ensure that this happens. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.



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