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Tibet Will Close to Travelers for 10 Days in October


A woman prays as a group of Chinese soldiers march in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa


The Chinese government has ordered a travel ban to Tibet from outside the region from October 18 to the 28, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

During that time, government officials will be holding meetings in Beijing and Lhasa, Tibet.

Officials announced the ban earlier this month. A Tibetan employee at a travel company in Xining, China, confirmed it to RFA’s Tibetan Service last week. The employee spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The employee told RFA that the ban does not only concern foreign travelers. It also affects Tibetans living outside of Tibet.

The employee said, “During this period, it is not just foreigners but also Tibetans living in the Amdo region of Qinghai who are not allowed to travel in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).”

The employee also told RFA the travel ban will hurt Tibet’s economy, as October is a popular month for tourists to visit the region.

RFA and VOA are each part of the U.S. government-supported Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Agence France Press (AFP) reported that the ban will remain in effect throughout the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress next month in Beijing.

The Tibet Tourism Bureau did not make the announcement itself. But the notice of the travel ban went to “several local travel agencies” earlier this month, AFP reported.

A person who recently traveled to Tibet confirmed to RFA that the region will be closed to outside visitors for the 10-day period. The person, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, told RFA that high-level government meetings are to take place in Lhasa during the period of the ban.

March travel ban

The Chinese government already bans travel to Lhasa by foreign visitors and Tibetans living in western Chinese areas every March. This month is politically sensitive because it is the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan rebellion.

On March 10, 1959, Tibetans in Lhasa protested Beijing’s political and military control of the formerly self-governing region. This started a rebellion in which thousands were killed.

In March of 2008, Chinese police suppressed peaceful Tibetan protests in Lhasa. This led to rioting, and the destruction of Han Chinese shops in the city and deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents.

The riot followed mostly peaceful protests against Chinese rule that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated areas of western China.

During the protests, hundreds of Tibetans were detained, shot, or beaten by Chinese security forces, sources said in earlier reports.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Richard Finney wrote this story for RFA. Phil Dierking adapted the story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

autonomous - adj. existing or acting separately from other things or people​

anonymity - n. the quality or state of being unknown to most people​

region ​- n. a part of a country, of the world, etc., that is different or separate from other parts in some way

source - n. a person, book, etc., that gives information​

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