Last week, the Irish broadcaster RTE transmitted several reports from Tibet. RTE was participating in a Chinese government-controlled media trip to the region, which RTE described as "carefully choreographed". In its reports, RTE challenged the authenticity of China's version of Tibet presented on the trip, saying a true picture "remains out of reach".
first of two video reports, RTE's Philip Bromwell reports from Lhasa, which he
describes as a "modern, sprawling city".During an interview at
the Jokhang temple, a monk says he hopes Dalai Lama will return to Tibet.
However, when he is asked why some Tibetans are protesting, the Chinese
interpreter interrupts, the monk looks concerned and only says, "This is a
difficult question for me".
In its report, RTE refers to the
self-immolation protests Which China blames the Dalai Lama for inciting. In
addition, China counters claims that it restricts religious freedom and
expression of culture in Tibet by stating it has brought development and
prosperity to Tibet. However, RTE notes China has responded to the protests
with"tighter security and surveillance" which is "far from
subtle", such as security cameras disguised as prayer wheels.
RTE also makes it clear that there is clear message the Chinese
government wishes to convey, as Tibetans provided for interview praise the
government. For example, a lecturer at a college of Tibetan medicine says,
"Tibet has received support from the government and has been well-developed and
grows very rapidly." At a thangka painting workshop, the manager says "Business
has been better than before because the government has fully supported this
Philip Bromwell concludes the first report
saying, "A carefully choreographed trip like this perhaps is only
ever going to reveal one version of events but even inside Tibet it seems a true
picture of what life is really like here remains out of
In the second report, Philip
Bromwell visits Kongpo prefecture (Chinese: Nyingchi) located east of Lhasa, to
examine recent changes in Tibet.
The report looks at the rapid
development of Tibet. Whilst showing images of construction on an industrial
scale, the report says of Tibet, "One thing is clear. It's changing, quickly." As well as economic
development, the report also highlights the issues of large-scale immigration of
Han Chinese and tourism. In 2013, almost 13 million tourists visited the Tibet
Autonomous Region, compared to a population of 3 million Tibetans.
RTE notes that China rejects
criticism that Tibet's unique way of life and its environment is being
threatened, by reiterating its claims to have brought prosperity to Tibet and is
protecting Tibetan culture.
concludes, "This trip
has given us a fascinating glimpse of a beautiful region, but in terms of seeing
the true Tibet, well, that may have already disappeared from view."
Inside Tibet - RTE's multimedia report
Tibet: A rare insight - RTE Radio broadcast (4 minutes)
Undercover reports from
ban, report from inside Tibet: December 2013 (video)
BBC: Lhasa under heavy
security and predominantly Chinese: Sept 2013 (audio)
France24: Seven Days in
Tibet - extended undercover report: June 2013 (video)
Tuesday, 4 November 2014
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.
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. Pleasetake action