Students from various University of California campuses will meet at the regents meeting in San Francisco today to protest the University’s investment in BP Amoco, a company they believe is linked to human rights abuses in Tibet.
The regents have a $300 million investment in BP Amoco, the world’s third largest oil company, which has a 2-percent investment in PetroChina, a Chinese state-owned oil company that is trying to build a pipeline through Tibet.
“The BP Amoco investment will aid PetroChina in the pipeline project which aids China in having more control over Tibet because there will be more of a Chinese presence in the area,” said Sarah Athanas, Vice President of Operations for the UCSB chapter of Students for a Free Tibet.
“We’re asking the regents to publicly denounce BP Amoco’s involvement in the pipeline project, to acknowledge the Tibetan people’s right to freedom and autonomy and to adopt a plan for socially responsible investments in the future,” Athanas said.
BP Amoco considered a bid on the pipeline project but decided against it. Neil Chapman, the director of government and public affairs at BP Amoco in Houston, said the company has no involvement in Tibet.
“We still have a 2-percent investment in PetroChina,” Chapman said. “But we do respect the concerns of Tibet. We use our influence in China for a force of good to bring development, trade and prosperity.”
Athanas said that BP Amoco may not be directly involved in the project but it is their investment that is allowing PetroChina to go through with the pipeline, making them partially responsible.
The UCSB chapter of SFT first learned of the UC Regents’ investment soon after it was founded last March. Daniel Gross, the president of the UCSB chapter of SFT, said that SFT, along with groups such as Friends of the Earth and the American Anti-Slavery Group, prepared a resolution asking BP Amoco to divest from PetroChina that was voted down at the BP Amoco annual shareholders meeting last April.
In response, the SFT protested in April at the University offices in Oakland and organized a sit-in demonstration in Chancellor Yang’s office last May in an attempt to convince the regents to divest from BP Amoco.
“The regents did not support the resolution,” said Gross. “We were very dismayed because we were able to show that overwhelming numbers of students, faculty and staff of the UC community were in favor of the resolution. In our opinion, what made the regents’ position invalid was that there are numerous socially responsible investment options that they could have pursued to ensure the future financial health of the UC system.”
UC Regents spokesperson Trey Davis said that the regents are willing to hear student concerns but he would not speculate on the chances of the regents divesting from BP Amoco or the chances of publicly denouncing BP Amoco’s involvement in the pipeline project.