Free Tibet statement regarding Lhasa Forum on the Development of Tibet

Friday, 8 July 2016
The Forum on the Development of Tibet runs from 7-8 July, in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region and is hosted by the State Council Information Office and the Tibetan regional government. According to state media “more than 130 researchers, officials and correspondents from over 30 countries and regions have been invited to attend” (1). After the first Lhasa development forum in 2014, Chinese state media claimed that delegates had signed a “Lhasa consensus”, acclaiming China’s policies in Tibet. Foreign delegates quickly disclaimed any knowledge of or support for the document (2).

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“When China staged the first so-called development forum in 2014, it was about propaganda rather than improving the lives of Tibetan people. Authorities in Tibet clearly feel that if they herd delegates around a cherry-picked selection of photo opportunities and show-villages, the result will be stories proclaiming the wonders of their achievements in Tibet. While international media have no free access to Tibet and Tibetans are severely punished for sharing news with the world outside, that may seem like a workable PR strategy. Unfortunately for China, their wafer-thin veneer of good news can’t hide the rot underneath. The reality of economic development in Tibet is that the majority of Tibetans are marginalised spectators as Chinese migrants and businesses harvest the benefits of Beijing’s policies. The second problem with China’s approach is that only those who wish to be fooled by it, will be fooled by it. Intelligent people don’t like being herded, overseen and treated like idiots and most delegates will know that the desperate attempt to hide things from them reveals far more about Tibet under Chinese rule than what’s being shown to them.

“China seems to cling to the ludicrous idea that showing that any Tibetans have benefitted from economic development somehow validates its occupation and oppression. Any delegates who are unable to see through that argument or unwilling to challenge it aren’t going to have much credibility left after they fly home.”


For further information or comment, contact campaigns and media manager Alistair Currie:

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Notes for editors

  1. China Daily 7 July 2016: Tibet development forum opens in Lhasa In advance of the forum, foreign delegates were taken on a tour of sites in Lhasa and the surrounding area:  6 July 2016, Delegates gather in Lhasa in  advance of upcoming conference
  2. CCTV 14 August 2014 International forum issues the ‘Lhasa Consensus’; BBC, 14 August 2014, New Zealand politician rejects pro-China Tibet document; Free Tibet news story, 15 August 2014  


Free Tibet campaigns for an end to China's occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans' right to freedom. We mobilise active support for the Tibetan cause, champion human rights and challenge those whose actions help sustain the occupation.