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Bob Parker, China State Media and Tibet Forum

Sir Bob Parker has been dubbed by China’s State Media in relation to recently held Tibet forum in Lhasa

Former Christchurch mayor was signed up to position statement without his knowledge; observed “happiness” in Tibet as Tibetan protesters elsewhere shot by security forces

Sir Bob Parker has joined political figures from the UK, Japan and Ireland who were reported by Chinese state media to have supported a highly controversial position statement at the end of an international meeting held in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, this week (1). As the meeting took place, China’s security forces opened fire with live ammunition on peaceful protesters elsewhere in Tibet, seriously injuring at least ten (2). Sir Bob has subsequently repudiated the document, which he did not agree to, telling the BBC that he was "not happy to be included in a document that states some very powerful political perspectives” (3).

Regarding the conference, Sir Bob also told the BBC:
"I came here as a New Zealander with a unique opportunity to get into Tibet and see some of these unique communities with my own eyes. There seems to be a good degree of openness and happiness in the communities that I've been to.
"But I'm not a Tibet expert, I'm not a global politician, I'm just a citizen who had a chance to come to a very special part of the world to see some of these things with my own eyes." (3)

Thuten Kesang Chairman of Friends of Tibet (NZ) said :

“I welcome Sir Bob Parker’s statement repudiating the so-called consensus but that does not alter the fact that as he was enjoying China’s hospitality, peaceful Tibetan protesters were being shot by China’s security forces. The statement issued at the end of this event shows that the whole thing was an exercise in propaganda which Western participants blindly or willingly allowed themselves to become part of China’s propaganda.
Sir Bob was naïve and foolish in taking at face value an invitation from the ‘State Council Information Office of China’ to attend a meeting about the country it occupies and brutally oppresses: such invitations belong in the bin.

Following the forum, participants were taken on a visit to Linzhi prefecture (Nyingtri, in Tibetan), a picturesque part of southern Tibet where China has invested in building “model villages” to attract tourists (4). It appears that Sir Bob’s comments to the BBC were made during that visit.

Thuten Kesang continues:

“Events like this constitute a key part of China’s international charm offensive on occupied-Tibet. Unfortunately, Sir Bob appears to have been taken in by the slick presentation and carefully stage-managed tour around China’s Tibetan Disneyland. Sir Bob’s should have acquainted himself with the full facts about Tibet before he accepted the invitation.”

The Fourth Forum on Development of Tibet, organised by the State Council Information Office of China and the Tibetan regional government, was attended by over 100 participants from 30 countries and issued at its conclusion the “Lhasa consensus” (5), which included the following points:

Participants unanimously agree that what they have actually seen in Tibet differs radically from what the 14th Dalai and the Dalai clique have said. The Dalai clique's statements on Tibet are distorted and incorrect. Many Western media reports are biased and have led to much misunderstanding (emphasis added)

Participants notice that Tibet enjoys sound economic growth, social harmony, deep-rooted Tibetan culture and beautiful natural scenery, and the people enjoy a happy life.

Participants notice that ordinary people in Tibet are satisfied with their well-off lives, good education, sound medical care, housing and various social securities. All ethnic groups in Tibet have full confidence and motivation for building a better future.

In contrast to the picture painted of economic development in Tibet at the forum, the UN Economic, Cultural and Social Rights committee recently issued a report detailing child malnutrition in Tibet and unemployment among Tibetans as a result of Chinese immigration (6). Tibetans are economically marginalised in Tibet and much of China’s infrastructure investment in the region is designed to facilitate the extraction and export of Tibet’s natural resources, including copper, gold and lithium.


Notes for Editors

(1) State media report http://www.china.org.cn/china/node_7211136.htm Other foreign participants identified in Chinese media to be attending the meeting included: Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, Labour Party spokesperson in the UK House of Lords; Kondo Shoichi, secretary general of the Nonpartisan Sino-Japan Friendship Parliamentarians' Union and former Japanese senior vice-minister of the environment; Peter Wittmann, a member of the Austrian National Council and Chairman of the Committee of Constitution in Austria; Bob Parker, former mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand; N. Ram, chairman and publisher of the Hindu Group of Newspapers; Kulasri Kariyawasam, secretary of Sri Lanka China Social and Cultural Cooperation
(2) Free Tibet press release 14/08/2014 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/chinese-forces-fire-tibetan-protesters-10-seriously-injured-pictures
(3) BBC report 15/8/14 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-china-blog-28804216
(4) Daily Telegraph 25/6/2012 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/9353939/China-plans-model-villages-to-lure-tourists-to-Tibet.html
(5) Full text of “Lhasa consensus” http://china.org.cn/china/2014-08/14/content_33232144.htm
(6) United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding observations on the second periodic report of China, including Hong Kong, China, and Macao, China, 13 June 2014 http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/049/83/PDF/G1404983.pdf?OpenElement

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