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China reopens Tibet for foreigners, with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’

(TibetanReview.net, Jun20, 2012) China is again said to permit non-Chinese foreign tourists to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), but under tight new restrictions and with new, unexplained stipulations. Following a meeting on Jun 18, the Tibet Tourism Bureau was reported to have decided that permits for foreigners will again begin to be processed from Jun 20.

However, only groups of five people from the same country will have their permits processed. Thus, a group made up of people from different countries will not be granted a travel permit.

Also, people from Norway, the UK, Austria and Korea will not be able to apply for permits to travel to the TAR. No reason was give for the decision. But with Norway, it was obviously because of the Nobel Peace Prize on jailed democracy activist Liu Xiaobo in 2010; with UK and Austria it was because of their leaders’ recent meetings with the Dalai Lama, and with South Korea, it was patently because of exile Tibetan officials’ participation in a recent meeting there of religious leaders, prompting a walkout by the Chinese delegation.

And while the TAR reopens on Jun 20, the Everest Base Camp will continue to remain closed. Again there was no reason for the decision.

Finally, the Tibet Tourism Bureau has told travel agencies that in order to process permits for the required groups of five, travel agencies will need to submit proof that the applicant tourists had paid in advance 50% to 100% of their tour costs.

The above information was revealed by Columbia University Tibetan Studies professor Robert Barnett who tweeted a link to an update on the Land of Snows travel blog and a report on this was posted on the chinadigitaltimes.net Jun 18.

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Last updated on Jun 20, 2012 15:41:14