China held a two-day Tibet Development Forum in Lhasa that was attended by 130 people from 30 countries, according to official Chinese news outlets.
According to the China Daily, the forum, organized by the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department, concluded Friday with “participants reaching a consensus on the autonomous region’s development, cultural and environmental protection.”
Liu Qibao, Beijing's propaganda boss, headed the event, during which participants were given guided tours of key areas in Lhasa and Lhoka prefecture.
“Unfortunately for China, their wafer-thin veneer of good news can’t hide the rot underneath,” said Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, the director of Free Tibet, who said the forum served only to advance Beijing's propaganda efforts in the region. “The reality of economic development in Tibet is that the majority of Tibetans are marginalized spectators as Chinese migrants and businesses harvest the benefits of Beijing’s policies.”
Tibetan Autonomous regional television showed a few of the foreign participants, including Christine Davies, vice president of the Asia Society, and a French writer named Sonia Bressler, who last year was praised by Chinese official news sources for writing about Tibet and speaking positively about the situation in Xinjiang.
Free Tibet spokesperson Alistair Carrie told VOA that some participants go to such events to “genuinely” try to learn about Tibet and others are there “because either their institutions or countries ... benefit [from] Chinese investment.”
The forum, held every two years, started in 2007 in Vienna, followed in 2009 in Rome, 2011 in Athens, and 2014 in Lhasa, Tibet.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Tibetan service.