DHARAMSALA, Aug 14: China’s much criticized development policy in Tibet was praised profusely by oversees delegates at a two-day symposium held from August 12 to 13 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
According to China’s state media, Xinhua, around 100 delegates, including journalists, scholars and politicians, from 33 countries and regions, including China, India, Britain and the United States attended the ‘2014 Forum on Development of Tibet’ to discuss development strategies for the Himalayan region.
The forum was in reality, nothing short of a competition among the delegates to appease China and criticize the western media for their biased views and not showing the “true picture of life in Tibet”.
Addressing the forum, Cui Yuying, vice head of the Information Office, criticized those “who insist Tibet should remain primitive and any development of the region equals the annihilation of Tibetan culture and the region’s environment,” that “Tibetans should always ride yaks and live in tents.”
“Tibet has been on an irreversible path of development and civilization, which complies with the general trend of the development of the human society,” she added.
Indian delegate, Narasimhan Ram, Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd. that runs India’s English-language newspaper, The Hindu, said “Tibet’s interaction and integration with the rest of China has deepened and its isolation from the rest of the world has decisively been ended.”
“Finding a permanent solution in Tibet through a negotiated end to the Dalai Lama-led ‘independence for Tibet’ campaign and activities is clearly in China’s national interest and therefore an important political objective,” a report by The Hindu on Aug 13 quoted N Ram as saying at the forum.
While calling the nine rounds of talks between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Beijing a positive development, he was critical of the Tibetan leader’s effort to bring the three traditional Tibetan provinces of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo under a single administrative unit.
“The biggest stumbling block was the Dalai Lama’s position on bringing together “Greater Tibet” — comprising not just the Tibet Autonomous Region but parts of the provinces of Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu where around three million Tibetans reside, amounting to one-fourth of China’s territory — under a single administrative unit,” the report quoted Ram as saying.
Agreeing with the Chinese government’s claim of calling the Dalai Lama’s proposal ‘disguised independence’, he said it was “reasonable to conclude, as the Chinese government has done, that the latest solution proposed by the Dalai Lama is both unacceptable and unworkable and is indeed “part of a two-step strategy — ‘first autonomy and then independence’.”
Lord Neil Davidson of Glen Clova, a Labour party front-bencher in the House of Lords also joined the motley group of China’s trumpet blowers by singing praises of Beijing’s economic policies.
“It’s very clear that the investment that has been put into Tibet has raised the standards of living of people here quite remarkably,” a BBC report on Aug 14 quoted him as telling a journalist from Chinese state-run media.
“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,” he added.
Some delegates were also critical of western media’s portrayal of Tibet as a mystical land.
“Despite the British invasion of Tibet in 1904, the West did not have the opportunity to understand Tibet,” state media, People’s Daily quoted Alessandra Spalletta, China news editor of the Italian news agency AGI, as saying at the forum. “They started a mystification of Tibet while building the mythology of ‘Shangri-la.'”
“Western people are fond of their own images of Tibet,” she said, “rather than the real Tibet.”
The fourth Forum on the Development of Tibet was the first of its kind to be held in Lhasa. The previous forums were held in Vienna, Austria on Nov 29, 2007; Rome, Italy on Oct 22, 2009 and Athens, Greece on Nov 10, 2011.