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Tibet Reopens to Foreign Tourism

June 26, 2008

June 25, 2008

More than three months after a wave of violent anti-China protests,
Tibet has reopened to foreign tourists, Chinese state media says.

The region was "safe" and overseas visitors were welcome, Xinhua
quoted a local tourism chief as saying.

China closed Tibet to foreign tourists after riots erupted in mid-March.

The decision to allow them back in comes days after the Olympic
torch's short, tightly-controlled visit to the region passed off smoothly.

"The success of the Olympic torch relay held three days ago in Lhasa
demonstrated that the foundation for the social stability has been
further consolidated," Xinhua quoted Tanor, deputy director of the
Tibet Autonomous Regional Bureau of Tourism, as saying.

"Tibet is safe. We welcome the domestic and foreign tourists."

Separately, an employee at the China Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa
told the BBC that foreign tourists were being allowed back in.

Domestic tour groups have been allowed in since late April, Xinhua said.


Access to the region for foreign journalists remains extremely limited.

At a news conference on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Liu
Jianchao said he hoped "reporting trips to Tibet will be arranged as
soon as possible when the situation in Tibet further returns to normal".

Unrest began in Tibet on 10 March, on the anniversary of a Tibetan
uprising against Chinese rule.

Buddhist monks led anti-Beijing rallies in Lhasa which grew into
widespread unrest among Tibetans, both in Tibet and surrounding provinces.

China says rioters killed at least 19 people, but Tibetan exiles say
security forces killed dozens of protesters. It was the worst unrest
in Tibet for 20 years.

Last week, a Chinese official said 116 people were still in custody
over the protests - but rights groups say they fear the number is far higher.

Early in May, in what was seen as a concession to international
pressure, Chinese officials held talks with two envoys of the Dalai
Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the violence -
allegations the Nobel Peace Prize winner roundly rejects.

A second round of talks between the two sides was postponed following
the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province.

Tibetan activists accuse Beijing of using "delaying tactics" to avoid
the issue.
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