03/11/2019, 13.28
CHINA
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Beijing closes Tibet to foreigners because they suffer from ‘altitude sickness’

The decision is taken on the 60th anniversary of the 1959 uprising. Tibetans in exile mark the event with protests. Xinhua uses the argument of economic growth, increased life span and better education to refute the critics' claims that the Tibetans are oppressed by China.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Tibetans protested yesterday in New Delhi marking the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against China’s invasion of their homeland. Given the occasion, China restricted access to Tibet by foreigners, claiming they suffer from altitude sickness.

Like every year, exiled Tibetans held a rally (pictured) in the Indian capital. This year’s was special as it marked the 60th anniversary of China’s crackdown.

At least 3,000 protesters marched carrying pictures of the Dalai Lama, shouting slogans like “Tibet’s freedom is India’s security” and “India-China friendship is a sham”. Their basic demand is for greater international support to achieve some degree of autonomy for their homeland.

Conversely, Beijing has defended its rule claiming that those who question its policies are simply showing anti-Chinese bias.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said in an editorial dated Saturday that economic growth, longer lifespan and better education refute the claims of critics that Tibetans suffer oppression.

Xinhua did not mention the anniversary directly but referred to the events of 1959 as the start of the "democratic reform" which saw the dismantling of the Buddhist hierarchy and feudal structures.

“Undeniable facts and figures” related to development “debunk the repeated lies and accusations that aim to smear Tibet’s human rights with vile motives,” it said. “Anyone without bias will recognise Tibet’s tremendous progress in human rights.”

On Sunday, an editorial in the Communist Party-run Tibet Daily attacked the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s traditional Buddhist leader, for what it said were his efforts to “sow chaos in Tibet”. His “separatist plots are doomed to total failure”, the paper said.

For Tibetans in exile, their country is enveloped in smothering layers of Chinese security whilst its resources are exploited for China’s benefit and its language and unique Buddhist culture are gradually destroyed.

Hundreds of Tibetans and Taiwanese also rallied in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.

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