Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tibet closes its doors to foreigners... Again

Tibet has barred foreign travellers from entering the Chinese occupied region for the second time this year, restricting access until late July
The ban has been imposed to mark the 60th anniversary of China's rule over the Himalayan region, which is scheduled to last until 26 July. Chinese citizens have not been included in the ban.
One travel website based in Tibet's administrative capital, Lhasa, was quoted by the Global Times newspaper as saying they would not accept visitors holding foreign passports until mid-August due to “safety concerns.”
The plans have been announced amidst years of tension in Tibet, where many of its citizens continue to raise concerns about the presence of Chinese rule impinging on Tibetan culture and religious practice.
In 2008, Lhasa experienced severe political unrest as anti-government protests, demonstrations and riots took place, spreading to neighbouring provinces with significant Tibetan populations.
Following the unrest, foreigners were banned from visiting the region for over a year and security has been increased.
Earlier this year, overseas visitors were barred from entering the region, as March marked the third anniversary of the Tibetan uprising. However, travel agencies said that foreigners have been able to visit since April.
When allowed to enter, foreigners are required to carry a special permit alongside a Chinese visa, and also have to travel in tour groups.
China says living standards in the region have increased dramatically since the violence in 2008, but a region in the south western province of Sichuan experienced unrest earlier this year, after a Tibetan monk self-immolated and died in an apparent anti-government protest.

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