China organised yet another ‘Forum on the Development of Tibet’ that lasted for two days from 7 to 8 July 2016 and was jointly organised by the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) local government and the central State Council Information Office (SCIO). Interestingly, despite all the controversy garnered by the conference declaration titled ‘Lhasa Consensus’ that was issued on the conclusion of the Fourth Forum in 2014 (Xinhua 2014), the organisers yet again issued another ‘Lhasa Consensus’ (Tibet Online 2016a). A noted feature of these forums has been the Chinese media’s overwhelming focus on the words of praise by international participants about China’s achievements in Tibet.
Most interestingly, discussion on Tibet’s importance to Xi Jinping’s pet project, ‘One Belt, One Road’ or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) came up at the Forum with one of the five topics (with 10 presentations) solely devoted to the subject. Notwithstanding, such a China-organised programme with a Tibet theme and strong elements of publicity, will continue to meet with scepticism; even the foreign delegates are being held to account for choosing to attend such an event. Further, the dogged focus on ‘foreign’ participants and their praises tends to overshadow the substantive points that might have been discussed at the conference vis-à-vis Tibet’s development.
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