Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 6 News List

China closes Tibet for sensitive anniversaries

AP, BEIJING

China is barring foreign travelers from Tibet for several weeks that include a pair of sensitive political anniversaries questioning the legitimacy of Beijing’s rule over the Himalayan region.

Travel agencies contacted yesterday said that foreign tourists would not be allowed into Tibet until April 1.

It is not clear when the ban started, although some monitoring groups said it began this month.

The ban was confirmed by the online customer service portal of the Tibet Youth International Travel Service, as well as staff at the Tibet Vista and Go to Tibet travel agencies.

Staff members declined to give their names or offer details.

March 10 is the 60th anniversary of an abortive 1959 uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, while anti-government riots occurred March 14, 2008, in the regional capital Lhasa.

Although the foreigner travel ban is an annual occurrence, the occasion of the 60th anniversary is drawing added attention.

Amid heavy security on the ground, Tibet is almost entirely closed to foreign journalists and diplomats, and information about actual conditions there is difficult to obtain.

The 1959 uprising resulted in the flight of the Dalai Lama into exile in India and the beginning of increasingly harsh Chinese rule over the region.

An unknown number of Tibetans were killed by security forces in the aftermath.

Despite the suffocating level of security, Tibet is an increasingly popular destination for tourists looking for mountain adventure and monuments to its unique Buddhist culture.

In 2017, more than 25 million trips from around the world were made to Tibet, an increase of 10.6 percent from the year before, generating 37.9 billion yuan (US$5.64 billion) in tourist revenue, Xinhua news agency reported.

Numbers of visits rose again last year to more than 33 million, a rise of 31.5 percent, Xinhua said.

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