Labour's Lord Davidson in hot water over Tibet comments made in China

 

Senior Reporter

A senior Labour peer who praised the “remarkable accomplishments” of the Chinese government in Tibet while attending a conference in the disputed region has been accused of taking part in a “cynical exercise in propaganda”.

Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, a front-bench member of the House of Lords, has been participating in the Fourth Forum on the Development of Tibet in Lhasa this week. His party says it is “deeply concerned” about the human rights situation there.

In a video released by China’s state-run broadcaster China Central Television, the shadow Advocate General for Scotland is seen telling a journalist: “It’s very clear that the investment that has been put into Tibet has raised the standards of living of people here quite remarkably. I was hearing about the doubling, more or less, of the longevity of the population. These are remarkable accomplishments achieved in a very short time.”

At the end of the two-day conference, which was organised by China’s Communist Party and concluded on Wednesday, a “Lhasa Consensus” was issued which was extremely critical of the Dalai Lama. China claimed it had the backing of all 100 attendees although this has not been confirmed.

One part of the agreement read: “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. Seeing is believing. Participants express the aspiration to introduce the real Tibet to the world.”

The document also said attendees agreed that Tibet “enjoys sound economic growth, social harmony, deep-rooted Tibetan culture and beautiful natural scenery, and the people enjoy a happy life”.

The idyllic picture of Tibet painted by the Lhasa Consensus is rather different from reality, where the violent repression of protests at Chinese rule is common. In the past three years, more than 120 Tibetans are thought to have resorted to self-immolation, many of them dying in the process.

Lord Davidson could not be reached to clarify his comments, which may have been manipulated or taken out of context by China’s state media. It is unclear who paid for his trip to Lhasa.

Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of the UK-based group Free Tibet, which campaigns against China’s “occupation” of the region, said he should never have attended the conference in the first place. “The statement issued at the end of this event makes clear that the whole thing was an utterly cynical exercise in propaganda which Western participants blindly or willingly allowed themselves to become part of,” she said.

“It remains to be seen whether the claims that they all agree with the outrageous and wholly inaccurate statements in the ‘consensus’ are actually true. Many may well be surprised to find themselves endorsing these views. Nevertheless, an invitation to an event on Tibet organised by the State Council Information Office of China belongs in the bin, not on the mantelpiece.”

On the second day of the conference, police in China’s Sichuan province reportedly opened fire on a group of Tibetan demonstrators who were protesting about the detention of a respected village leader. Ten people were seriously wounded in the incident.

“As Lord Davidson was enjoying China’s hospitality in Lhasa, unarmed Tibetans were being shot by China’s security forces,” Ms Byrne-Rosengren said. “This highlights how grave his misjudgement was in attending this meeting. We look forward to hearing his urgent response.”

A spokesman for Lord Davidson’s law firm Axiom Advocates said he could not be reached for comment. A Labour Party spokesperson said he had attended the conference in a personal capacity.

“As part of the People’s Republic of China, it is in Tibet’s interest to build long term stability,” they added. “But that can only be achieved through respect for human rights and greater autonomy for the Tibetans. Labour remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation there.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory