China enforces ban on travel to Tibet on riots anniversary

China enforced restrictions on the entry of foreign tourists to Tibet.

Updated: Mar 09, 2011, 00:39 AM IST

Beijing: Ahead of the third anniversary of
the bloody riots in Lhasa next week, China on Tuesday enforced
restrictions on the entry of foreign tourists, citing the
bitterly cold winter weather in the Himalayan region.

Even as Jiang Yu, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson,
declined to react to reports that the travel agents have been
asked not to make bookings for visiting Tibet, officials said
the curbs were due to heavy wintry weather.

Asked during the media briefing here today about
reports quoting travel agents in this regard, Jiang said the
question should be directed to local authorities.

Confirming the curbs, Zhang Qingli, the Communist
Party of China (CPC) chief for the Tibet, said at the
parliament session here that the "temporary measures" on
restricting foreign tourists to the region were mainly due to
the current cold winter weather, limited accommodation
capacity and safety concerns.
"The plateau region is still in deep freeze in March
and lots of religious activities will be held. Local
authorities do not hope there is something wrong with foreign
tourists," Zhang who is attending the ongoing session of the
National People?s Congress (NPC) was quoted as saying by the
Xinhua news agency today.

Travel to Tibet is already restricted and foreign
media has to take obtain special permission to visit the
region.

Zhang defended the curbs on foreigners, saying many
people are visiting Tibet to attend a grand ceremony being
organised to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the
"liberation" of Tibet by the Chinese Army.

As a result there is great pressure to the limited
number of hotels in the region, Zhang said.
Ahead of the March 14 anniversary of the 2008 riots in
which 18 people were killed and 400 wounded, Chinese officials
have stepped up attack against the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama is a "wolf in monk`s robes", Zhang said, as
he yesterday accused the 76-year-old exiled Buddhist leader of
seeking separation of Tibet from China.

Underplaying the importance of the 1989 Nobel
laureate, former Tibet Governor Qiangba Puncog told the media
in Beijing that when Dalai Lama dies, it will trigger small
shock waves in Tibet but won`t result in serious instability.

The exiled spiritual leader still has religious clout
but no political influence in China, he added.

China has accused the followers of Dalai Lama for
instigating the the 2008 violence, a charge the exiled leader
has denied.

PTI