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Australian MP calls for balanced press on Tibet
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11:15, December 10, 2008

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The Western media should project a more balanced picture of China's Tibet, a member of Australia's Parliament has said.

Reports from the West tend to focus on the problems of the autonomous region, Michael Johnson, representative for the Federal seat of Ryan and Federal Whip in the Australian Opposition party, told China Daily in a interview last Thursday.

"While reporting the challenges the region faces, they should also talk about the economic development. They should be balanced," Johnson said.

Leading a delegation of four people, including two Australian reporters, Johnson spent four days last week in Tibet meeting Tibetans and speaking with local officials. He is said to be one of the first Western politicians to lead a delegation to Tibet after the March 14 riots that brought heavy economic loss and casualties to Lhasa, Tibet's capital.

There is much of Tibet that has not been well covered in the press to the outside world, Johnson said.

"I am very surprised by the mature economic environment there, very sophisticated economic structure and mature modern economic infrastructure. It's the benefit of China's 30 years of growth and the growth of Tibet," Johnson said.

"That has not been communicated to the international community as it should have been," he said.

It is a real challenge for China to find a way to have the media talk in a balanced way over Tibet, Johnson said.

To achieve that goal, he said China should allow and encourage more Western politicians to visit Tibet.

"The feeling (of the tour) is great. It is actually a milestone in China's communications over the Tibet issue," Johnson said.

Talks with important government officials including a vice-chairman of Tibet's regional government and ordinary residents were very fruitful and enlightening, he said.

He plans to write comments in newspapers and give a speech in Parliament when he is back in Australia.

Similarly, he said the two journalists in his delegation would run important stories. "Also, I would encourage any member of Parliament to take the opportunity to come. I would advise them to come with an open mind and open eyes, to see the progress and development, side by side," Johnson said.

Source: China Daily

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