(TibetanReview.net, Sep16, 2014) – In order to present an impression of an open Tibet, China has been publicizing orchestrated tours of the region by especially invited foreign journalists and other officially sponsored visitors. On the other hand, the region remains off-limits for independent journalists; Western tourists are allowed in only in controlled groups; and Tibetans are under a general ban from travelling overseas. In its latest such public relations exercise, China has invited military officials from 46 countries for what appears to be a holiday tour of Tibet.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Sep 13 that 96 military officials and their spouses from 46 countries were to tour Tibet (Autonomous Region) from Sep 19 on invitation from the Ministry of National Defence.
The report said the visitors will be briefed about military construction in Tibet and shown around a military brigade with the Tibet Military command and the Logistical Engineering University of the PLA. The move is obviously aimed at trying to dispel concerns about China’s militarization of the Tibetan Plateau which has intensified greatly in recent years, especially raising concerns in neighbouring India which will also be part of the tour group.
The military officials and their spouses will also visit a Tibetan pharmaceutical factory, homes of Tibetans and local scenic spots, the report added. The programme was reported to be aimed at enhancing the officials’ knowledge and understanding of the lives of the people of Tibet and promote cooperation between Chinese and foreign militaries.
However, the visitors will be shown only capital Lhasa during their Tibet Autonomous Region sojourn while they will also visit Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, and Chongqing in China, according to the report.