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Senior UK politician tells Chinese media 'people live happily' in Tibet PDF Print E-mail
[14 August 2014] Lord Davidson, who attended a Chinese government-run international forum on Tibet's development this week, has been quoted by Chinese state media as complementing China on its development of Tibet, saying "people live happily" in Tibet and criticising the western media for not painting a true picture of Tibet. It is not yet known if Lord Davidson's remarks have been taken out of context.

Lord Davidson at Lhasa ForumLord Davidson was attending the Fourth Forum on the Development of Tibet, held in Lhasa on 12-13 August (Lord Davidson is pictured right addressing the Lhasa Forum. Picture from Xinhua news agency website). The forum included 100 delegates from 31 countries and was hosted by the Chinese Communist Party. According to Chinese state media its focus was "Tibet's sustainable development, cultural heritage preservation and environment protection".

China Tibet Online quoted Lord Davidson as saying, "Many western reports are written by enthusiasts of the Dalai Lama. And they may feel uncomfortable when their presumptions or assumptions are challenged."

The report went on say, "From [Lord Davidson's] perspective, the Chinese government has done a great job in developing Tibet to the current stage, where people live happily, and there is a gap between the western media coverage on Tibet and the real Tibet." The report also said Lord Davidson "added that many western media are profit-making but traveling to Tibet is too costly, which is also a reason why they couldn't come and report on spot in Tibet."

It is not clear whether or not these comments attributed to Lord Davidson have been taken out of context. However, as Lord Davidson has a professional interest in China it would be surprising if he was not aware of the Chinese state media's ability to twist statements to support Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

According to the BBC, Lord Davidson told a journalist on camera, "It's very clear that the investment that has been put into Tibet has raised the standards of living of people here quite remarkably. I was hearing about the doubling, more or less, of the longevity of the population. These are remarkable accomplishments achieved in a very short time."

So far, Lord Davidson has not been available for comment. He is understood to be partaking in a two-day "field trip" in Lhasa and the surrounding area.

Tibet Society will be attempting to contact Lord Davidson for comment and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet (of which Tibet Society is the Secretariat) will be inviting Lord Davidson to attend a future meeting to discuss the outcome of the Forum and his observations whilst in Tibet.

Lord DavidsonLord Davidson of Glen Clova is a Labour front-bencher in the House of Lords. He is the Shadow Advocate-General for Scotland and the Shadow Spokesperson on the Treasury. He joined the Lords as a life Peer in 2006 and between 2006 and 2010 served as the Advocate-General for Scotland. He is a barrister with a declared interest in China.

Though the conclusions of the Forum have yet to be published, Chinese officials have been quoted in the media, extolling the 'progress' made in Tibet due to Chinese government policies. The State Council Information Office Deputy Director was quoted as saying, "Tibetan people enjoy full human rights protection" and there is "increasing happiness" due to the "improvement of living standards" According to Xinhua, during the Forum's opening ceremony, the Chairman of Tibet's regional government, Losang Jamcan, "vowed to maintain social stability and harmony," which Xinhua said, "he believes is a pre-condition for Tibet's leap-frog development".

Though the Chinese government has significantly developed Tibet in the past few decades, it has done so for its own benefit and without the consent of or consultation with the Tibetan people. Much of the environmental damage has been caused by China's indiscriminate exploitation of Tibet natural's resources and Tibet's unique culture is at risk with the enormous influx of Han Chinese migrants and the cynical Sinocisation of Tibet.

Further reading:
BBC: UK politician's Tibet visit under fire (14 Aug)
China Tibet Online: Biased western media coverage denounced at forum (12 Aug)
Xinhua: China opens Tibet forum with focus on development (12 Aug)
Note: China Tibet Online and Xinhua are media outlets run by the Chinese government.

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. Annual membership 24; Family 36; Life 500.
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