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China Starts Building Fifth Airport in Tibet

May 3, 2009

April 30, 2009

BEIJING - China has started building a fifth
civil airport in restless and mountainous Tibet,
hoping to boost the number of visitors to the
remote region, state media said on Thursday.

The government will spend 480 million yuan
($70.34 million) on the "Peace Airport" in
Tibet's second largest city, Shigatse, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Construction would take two years and the airport
would be able to handle 230,000 passengers a year, it added.

"The civil airport will be an air corridor
linking Shigatse with the outside world and
inject new vigour into local social and economic
development," Xinhua quoted government official Xu Xueguang as saying.

Shigatse, the traditional seat of the Buddhist
Panchen Lama, is also being linked by rail to
Lhasa, from where trains head out to the rest of China.

Beijing says that the new airports, roads and
railway to Tibet will promote development and
help raise living standards, while Tibet
activists say it will speed up the pace of
Chinese migration there and dilute Tibetan Buddhist culture.

Tibet was rocked last year year by anti-Chinese
protests, driving down tourist numbers as the
violence kept people away and the government
tightened controls on who could enter the region.
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