China closes Tibet to Foreign visitors again ahead of political sensitive anniversaries


DHARAMSALA, Feb 20: China has closed Tibet to foreign tourists ahead of the 60th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising.

China has banned overseas travellers from visiting Tibet over a period of several weeks ahead of two sensitive political anniversaries in Tibet, AP reported.

While it is unknown when the ban started, the report said that Tibet will remain closed for foreigners until April 1 quoting sources from travel agencies it has contacted.

10th March 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising day, and 14th March marks the 11th anniversary of the brutal crackdown of widespread 2008 protests in Tibet, 2008 Pan-Tibet Uprising.

China often bars foreign tourists from visiting Tibet during periods of unrest and during religious festivals, but “the occasion of the 60th anniversary is drawing added attention,” the report said.

The report further stated that the presence of heavy security on the ground coupled with Tibet being almost entirely closed to foreign journalists and diplomats paint a grim state of affairs in the region.

While Chinese people can travel to Tibet at will, foreigners are required to obtain a special permit in addition to their Chinese visas.

List of different permits required for foreigners in Tibet. Image: China Tibet Train Tours; the only official partner with China Railway.

Along with the Tibet Travel Permit, which allows foreigners to board train or flight to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, they will require an addition of PSB Permit- Alien’s Travel permit, Military Permit and frontier pass for Border Regions to visit what China calls ‘unopened’ areas, Chinese military restricted areas in Tibet and visit Mount Everest region or to cross the Kyidrong Border between Nepal and Tibet.

Even after that, they will be accompanied by a government-appointed guide while tours are closely monitored.

Though China has sporadically denied closing Tibet and never offered an explanation for any such measures, monitoring and rights groups say China does so with a political motive and that it is part of the regime’s strategy of covering the extent of repression in the Tibet.

Besides, all foreign tour operators are required to make their arrangements through Chinese firms which are mostly run or controlled by the communist regime.

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