26 September 2016
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    » 06/26/2008, 00.00

    TIBET - CHINA

    Tibet reopens to foreign tourism, with restrictions for journalists and tourists



    More than three months after the repression, foreign tourists are returning to Tibet, but they need special permits to go outside of Lhasa. Severe restrictions are still in place for journalists. Meanwhile, those who protested remain in prison, and talks with the Dalai Lama are not moving forward.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Tibet has been reopened to foreign tourists, after more than three months of complete closure following the social protests that erupted in March, and the following repression.  Restrictions remain in place, for example concerning access for journalists: Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the foreign ministry, told journalists at a June 24 press conference that they will be readmitted "as soon as possible, when the situation in Tibet further returns to normal".

    Tourists are able to travel only to Lhasa, but they can visit the rest of the region only in organised groups and with a special permit.  Tourism operators say the restrictions are the typical bureaucratic delays.  There is still an army presence in the city (in the photo).

    Meanwhile, the first tourists in many months are starting to arrive in the empty hotels.  Tourism operators and many citizens of the area, mostly of Han ethnicity, describe a completely normal situation and speak only of tourism and the Olympics: they express concern that it will take time for tourism to return to the vigorous levels typical of the summer.  Chinese travellers have been admitted again since the end of April, and those from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan since May.  In 2007, Tibet received 4 million visitors (+60% compared to 2006) for a value of 687 million dollars, more than 14% of the regional economy.

    Tranor, the vice director for the Tibetan tourism office, says that there is "total stability", and that even the monasteries where the monks protested are open to tourists.  He emphasises how the torch passed through Lhasa on June 21 without problems.  According to the initial programme, the torch was supposed to be in Tibet for three days, but the passage was reduced to only one day because of fears of protests by pro-Tibet activists, although the official reason for the change was the earthquake in Sichuan.

    Last week, Beijing admitted that 116 people are still in prison for protesting, but pro-Tibet groups say that there are many more.  Following international pressure, Beijing began talks with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to seek a solution.  But the second round of talks has been delayed because of the earthquake, and Beijing does not seem to be in a hurry to resume them.

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    See also

    05/06/2008 INDIA - TIBET - CHINA
    Mass arrests in "March of return"
    Yesterday afternoon, 259 Tibetans and 6 members of the organising committee were taken away by authorities near Berinag, 160 kilometres from the border. The Tibetan leader of the march reiterates the intention of "reaching the goal" by overcoming "all obstacles".

    04/08/2008 INDIA - TIBET - CHINA - NEPAL
    Tibetan Olympic torch, sign of freedom and justice
    In imitation of the Olympic torch, it has crossed five continents to recall the Tibetan question and Chinese repression against rights in the country, and call for Tibet's freedom. Meanwhile, yesterday in Nepal 253 pro-Tibet demonstrators were arrested.

    12/03/2008 TIBET - CHINA - INDIA
    Tibet, thousands of police break up protest by monks
    About two thousand policemen, in riot gear, launched tear gas against a group of monks asking for the liberation of some of their fellow monks. In New Delhi, Tibetan women commemorate the massacre of 1959.

    26/04/2008 CHINA - TIBET - JAPAN
    World leaders applaud the announcement of talks between China and the Dalai Lama
    Favourable comments worldwide over yesterday's announcement, but also anticipation of future results. Meanwhile, the torch passes "unharmed" through Japan.

    15/03/2008 TIBET
    The blood of Tibet on the Beijing of the Games
    A few months before the Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government on alert suppresses with tanks and soldiers the desperate requests of the young Tibetans. China is reaping what it has sown: in almost 50 years, is has never given any hope to the population of Tibet, instead increasing control and genocide.



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