Foreign tourists banned from Tibet on anniversary of riots

Foreign tourists banned from Tibet on anniversary of riots

The Chinese government has banned foreign tourists from entering Tibet on the third anniversary of violent anti-government protests in the region.

Anyone who intends to travel to the troubled region requires a special permit but such permits will be refused to foreigners. The ban could last for up to three months.

Travel agencies in the region say they have been ordered not to allow foreign tourists into Tibet in March.

The Xizang Tourist General Company in the region’s capital Lhasa told the news agency AFP: ‘They can’t come to Tibet in March and as far as April is concerned we are still awaiting notification of any rule changes.’

Violent anti-government riots took place in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa in 2008 in which 22 people were killed. The Chinese government blamed the unrest on followers of the Dalai Lama, who want Tibet to be separate from China.

Foreign tourists were banned for a year following the riots and have since been banned from entering the area each year around the 14 March anniversary.

The region’s top official confirmed the restrictions earlier this month but blamed potential overcrowding and freezing weather.

Zhang Qingli, the Communist party secretary in Tibet, said there were “some control measures” for safety reasons.

He told reporters at an annual political meeting in Beijing that the region was stable. “It’s not that the anti-Chinese forces and the Dalai [Lama] clique haven’t thought of it but the fact is they haven’t been able to stir up any unrest since the 14 March incident.”

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