ROME: A two-day forum on development of China's Tibet autonomous region opened yesterday in Rome, attended by more than 400 participants from China, Italy, Austria, Canada, India, Australia, Spain and Belgium.
More than 20 Chinese and foreign government officials, experts, scholars and entrepreneurs, including some ethnic Tibetans, gathered to explore opportunities for cooperation in Tibet's economic, social and cultural sectors.
Participants welcomed the event - the first large-scale international exchange program on Tibet since last year's March 14 violence in Lhasa - for bringing to the international community the latest, first-hand information on Tibet's development, which will sure enhance the world's understanding of the region, said Cesare Romiti, President of Italia-China Foundation, co-sponsor of the forum.
Ten ethnic Tibetans addressed the forum yesterday, explaining recent developments in their fields - ranging from education and tourism to public health - while officials and scholars from China's central government offices and think tanks explained policies for the autonomous region's growth to the foreign audience.
Participants from Italy and other countries shared their success stories in local-level development with the Tibetans, especially cooperation in the fields of traditional medicine, cultural exchange, tourism and sustainable development.
"I believe such discussion will enhance knowledge of Tibet for the Italian people and peoples of other countries in the world," said Wang Chen, Minister of the State Council Information Office, one of the main sponsors of the two-day event in the Italian capital.
"To know about Tibet means a deeper understanding of China and its culture," said Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi.
This week's event is warm-up for the upcoming China Cultural Year to be held throughout 2010 in Italy as part of the celebration on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationships between China and Italy.
The forum to be concluded today will be followed by exhibitions of Tibet paintings in Rome and Milan through the end of the month.