UK politician: "Tibetans are happy"

13th August 2014

Chinese state media reports compliments for China's work in Tibet

China's state media has reported that a senior UK politician has told a meeting in Lhasa that the “Chinese government has done a great job in developing Tibet to the current stage, where people live happily”. The reports have not been independently verified but if correct, the comments by Lord Davidson at the Chinese government's Fourth Forum on Development of Tibet back Chinese propaganda and provide a deeply misleading picture of life for Tibetans.

Misrepresentation of Tibet

Lord Davidson described economic development in Tibet as "remarkable" and is quoted 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. It is uncomfortable and expensive to have their prejudice challenged."

Free Tibet Director, Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“We hope that the comments attributed to Lord Davidson significantly misrepresent his contribution at this event. If the reports are accurate, Lord Davidson should have acquainted himself with the facts before regurgitating China’s propaganda on Tibet. Economic development in Tibet is far from what it seems from the window of a car or a plush meeting room in Lhasa.”

Tibetans far from 'happy'

The UN Economic, Cultural and Social Rights committee recently issued a report noting that Tibet is the worst area in China for child malnutrition. Immigration of Han Chinese people into Tibet, the use of Chinese labour and restrictions on freedom of movement for Tibetans have excluded them from most of the benefits of the economic development that has taken place. China's heavy investment in transport infrastructure is designed to help China's security forces move quickly around Tibet and make it easier for Tibet's natural resources - including copper, gold and lithium - to be exported to China.

Western media blocked

The report stated that Lord Davidson said Western media did not report Tibet because travel there was too “costly”. In reality, international media are banned from Tibet by the Chinese government. Chinese state media does not report criticism of its Tibet policies so it is possible that Lord Davidson also addressed issues such as human rights abuses in Tibet. Lord Davidson is a senior spokesman for the Labour Party in the UK Parliament's House of Lords.

Take Action

Tibetans are constantly under surveillance and subject to arrest at any time. Since 2012 at least eleven singers have been arrested, joining thousands of other political prisoners in this occupied country. Please take action