Chinese authorities have completely cut off Tibet from outside visitors ahead of politically sensitive celebrations in July.
The ban is applicable not only on foreign tourists but also bars regular scholars and Tibetans from neighbouring provinces from visiting the ‘TAR’.
“Some scholars, Western scholars also, have been told they won’t be able to come during that period to do research … Many Tibetans who came from Qinghai and Yunnan were told to return home by the end of June, and Tibetan businessmen without official permits have also been told to leave Lhasa and return to their hometowns”, RFA quoted Robert Barnett, a Tibet scholar as saying.
China is planning grandiose official celebrations in Lhasa, Tibet’s ancient capital city, to mark 90 years of the Communist Party of China and 60 years of Tibet’s “peaceful liberation”.
The exact dates for the celebrations haven’t been revealed yet as a security measure.
While certain travel agencies have said that the ban would be enforced till July 26, the Global Times newspaper quoted a Lhasa-based manager of a travel website as saying they would not accept tourists holding foreign passports until mid-August.
This is the second time this year when the troubled Himalayan region has been closed to visitors. In March this year, Tibet was once again closed to foreigners ahead of the third anniversary of the 2008 spring uprisings, but government officials cited cold weather and overbooking of hotels as reasons.
While China has ordered work units to prepare song and dance routines for the celebrations of “60 years of liberation”, Tibet has witnessed repeated protests and peaceful demonstrations against Beijing’s rule in the past few months. Monks of Kirti monastery continue to restrain “Patriotic Reeducation” following the self-immolation of a monk, Phuntsok on March 16 while Kardze has seen at least half a dozen incidents of anti-government protests in the past one week alone.