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Bombardier building "Roof of the World" railway in China-challenged Tibet

by Judi McLeod,
Monday, May 2, 2005

Why is Bombardier, the world's third largest plane producer building a railway to the top of the world in China-challenged Tibet?

A leader of the Canadian aerospace industry, Bombardier is helping China to build a railway on the "roof of the world".

The nearly 1,200-kilometre rail line will be the first to connect China to Tibet's capital city and is opposed by Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet.

Bombardier, already China's largest feeder plane provider, seems to be taking a page from the book of the Canadian Liberal government, that has propped it up financially, in opening the floodgates to Canadian-Chinese business ventures.

Andre Desmarais, the son of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's former boss, Paul Desmarais at the Montreal-based Power Corporation, if honorary chairman of the Canada-China Business Council. In fact, Power Corp. Vice President Peter Kruyt has been council chairman since 2002.

Martin's first address as new Canadian Prime Minister was made at the council's gala dinner, held at Toronto's Metro Convention Centre on Dec. 6, 2004.

Bombardier, which has taken at least $1.5 billion in grants, loans, and/or loan guarantees from the Canadian federal government in the last couple of decades, is one of the five western corporations to directly partner with the Communist Chinese government in the construction of the railway.

"Bombardier signed the Cdn$402-million rail passenger car contract with China's Ministry of Railways in Beijing in February," writes The Asian Pacific Post. "According to the contract, the consortium will supply 367 cars for new railways to Lhasa, capital city of the Tibet Autononomous Region in Western China.

The consortium includes Bombardier Transportation, Bombardier Sifang Power (Qingdao) Transportation Limited–its joint venture in East China's Shandong province–and Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. Ltd., a local company.

Last year, Bombardier Transportation won contracts worth more than Cdn$611-million in China.

Bombardier also has a wholly-owned venture in Shanghai, Bombardier Railway Transportation Equipment (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.

Trains of the "roof of the world" railway will be equipped with unique state-of-the-art technology.

A wireless network for the rail line will be supplied by Nortel Networks, which jumped aboard the railway only three weeks after Bombardier announced its participation.

Bombardier is being fought on both home turf and abroad by the Students for a Free Tibet, a network of more than 650 schools worldwide.

"The Chinese government has publicly admitted that the railway is not commercially viable and is being built for political reasons," said Maude Cote, a member of Students for a Free Tibet in Montreal. "There is no excuse for a Canadian company to join hands with the Chinese government on this devastating project and we urge Bombardier to withdraw immediately."

Perhaps Bombardier should forget Chinese choo-choos and stick to the skies.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]

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