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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibet tourism 'hits record high'

December 19, 2007

BBC News
Monday, 17 December 2007

The number of tourists travelling to Tibet has hit a record high,
Chinese state media has reported.

Just over four million tourists will have visited Tibet in 2007, an
official said, an increase of 64% year on year.

The official put the increase down to better marketing and improved
transport links, including the controversial high-speed rail service to

Critics say China is using the link to increase control over Tibet and
further erode its traditional culture.

Local Communist Party secretary Zhang Qingli said that Tibet was
entering a "golden era" of tourism.

Revenue from tourism was expected to hit 4.8bn yuan ($650m, £322m) in
2007, up 73.3% on the previous year, he said.

Both the rail link and a new airport had contributed to the rise, he said.

'Deep concern'

In the past, Lhasa could be reached only by plane or after a long,
arduous road journey.

Since the rail link opened 17 months ago, Chinese tourism and trade to
Tibet has surged. But the new train service is a source of concern to
many Tibetans.

They argue that it has facilitated an influx of Chinese settlers, who
are increasingly dominating business and making Tibetans a minority in
some towns and regions.

In a statement in March, the Dalai Lama warned that both the number of
settlers and environmental degradation in Tibet had increased since the
train line became operational, describing it as a source of "deep concern".

Earlier this month, the train line was used to carry Chinese troops to
the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, fuelling concerns that China is using the
train to cement its hold on Tibet.

China invaded Tibet in 1950. A Tibetan government-in-exile led by the
Dalai Lama is based in Dharamsala, northern India.
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