Tibet protest at Paris hotel caps bad week for InterContinental Hotels Group

Thursday, 19 September 2013

IHG under spotlight over China links

The Intercontinental Paris-Le Grand was last week targeted by Tibet supporters over InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) plan to build a luxury hotel in occupied Lhasa, following previous demonstrations outside InterContinental hotels in London and New York. The protest took place as the media spotlight fell on the disappearance of IHG’s billionaire partner in the Tibet project, who is reportedly being investigated for corruption in China (1).

The protest by Students for a Free Tibet France was part of the international boycott campaign against InterContinental hotels, launched by Free Tibet in May this year. Demonstrations by Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet have already taken place outside other InterContinental hotels in London and New York, (2, 3) and tens of thousands of people have viewed Free Tibet’s campaign videos (4). Approximately 40 demonstrators targeted the luxury Parisian hotel on Wednesday 11 September (photo available, 5).

According to a US State Department report released this year, Tibet is subject to “severe repression” and “serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture [and] arbitrary arrests” (6). The campaigners maintain that the company’s presence and naming the hotel as the “Lhasa Paradise” is a propaganda gift to the Chinese regime responsible for human rights abuses throughout Tibet; and severe repression, surveillance and denial of human rights in Lhasa in particular. The campaigners also believe that the hotel and its business facilities may be used by the authorities to discuss and implement further repressive measures.

The hotel, currently due to open in 2014, is being built and will be owned by the Sichuan-based Exhibition and Travel Group (ETG). On 13 September, the Daily Telegraph reported that ETG’s billionaire chairman, Deng Hong, disappeared earlier this year and is believed to be facing a corruption investigation (1). The InterContinental Juizhai Resort Paradise in Sichuan is owned by ETG (7) and IHG runs an InterContinental hotel inside ETG’s New Century Golden Center in Chengdu, Sichuan (the world’s largest building). Another ETG-owned InterContinental hotel in Chengdu has, according to the writer of the Telegraph report, “special floors” for officials (8). The article quotes a local source saying “Deng Hong had ties to almost every official in Sichuan.” IHG have so far refused to comment.

Senior executives from IHG have also declined to answer questions from Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet over what its vaguely-worded corruption policy would mean in the event of Deng’s conviction. Nor have they answered questions in meetings and correspondence about what steps they will take to prevent the facilities of their Lhasa hotel being used by officials to discuss or implement repressive policies in Tibet.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“InterContinental’s decision to go into Lhasa looks more foolish and irresponsible with every passing month. Deciding to open a playground for the rich in the heart of a repressed nation has made them the focus of an international boycott campaign and is putting protesters in front of their hotels across the world. Partnering with a man whose business depends on his links with the Chinese Communist Party is also backfiring on them. Whether or not Deng turns out to be as dirty as he looks, he is hand-in-glove with China’s iron fist in Tibet.

“InterContinental Hotels Group likes to position itself as an ethical company but its friends, its business choices and its refusal to engage with criticism are increasingly exposing that position as PR, not principle.”



For further information or comment on the campaign, contact campaigns and media officer Alistair Currie:

E: alistair@freetibet.org
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

For information on the demonstration, contact Anne Wachowiak, Students for a Free Tibet-France

E: anne.w.tib@gmail.com

T: +33 687163354

Notes for editors

(1) Daily Telegraph, 13 September 2013, Corruption and the world’s biggest building http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10308029/Corruption-and-the-worlds-biggest-building.html

(2) http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/intercontinental-hotels-group-targeted-campaign-and-boycott-tibet-supporters and http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/%E2%80%9C-bed-china%E2%80%9D-bed-protest-intercontinental-flagship-hotel-eve-ihg-quarterly-results

(3) http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibet-demonstration-targets-intercontinental-hotel-times-square

(4) http://www.freetibet.org/intercontinental/videos

(5) http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157635646341764/

(6) US Department of State (2013) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: China http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=204195&year=2012#wrapper

(7) Caixin , 12 April 2013, Another Sichuan businessman investigated for graft http://english.caixin.com/2013-04-12/100513654.html

(8) Malcolm Moore, Tweet, 13 September 2013, http://twitter.com/MalcolmMoore/status/378677568569761792