China restricts foreigners from visiting Tibet

March 8th, 2011 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, March 8 (IANS) Ahead of the March 10 anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, China has temporarily restricted foreign tourists from visiting the region, citing “safety concerns”.

The measures were mainly due to the current cold winter weather, limited accommodation and safety concerns, Xinhua quoted a high-ranking official as saying Monday.

The plateau region is still in deep freeze in March and lots of religious activities will be held, said Zhang Qingli, Communist Party official for Tibet, while attending the annual parliament session in Beijing.

In addition, many people are going to Tibet to prepare for a grand ceremony conmmemorating the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet, Zhang said.

Wednesday is the 52nd anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule March 10, 1959.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, is expected to issue an anniversary statement Wednesday, DPA reported.

An anniversary protest March 10, 2008 in Lhasa, the regional capital, escalated into rioting that left at least 21 people dead, according to official figures.

Tibetan exile groups put the toll at more than 200 and claimed that many Tibetans were killed by Chinese paramilitary police.

The anonymous authors of online calls for nationwide anti-government “Jasmine rallies” have also identified the central square in Lhasa as a site for weekly protests, DPA said.

China suspended all tours to Tibet following the 2008 rioting and has suspended foreign tours at least twice since then.

The Tibet Autonomous Region hoped to attract some 7.5 million tourists and earn about 7.6 billion yuan (about $1 billion) from tourism this year, Xinhua said.

Zhang also reiterated the government’s view of the Dalai Lama as a “wolf in monk’s robes” who wanted to separate Tibet from China.

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he is not seeking independence but greater political and religious autonomy for Tibetans in China.

Chinese Communist troops took control of Tibet in 1951. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese occupation.

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