This Week in Tibet: Bad News, Good News?

Travel Blog  •  Julia Ross  •  03.13.09 | 12:33 PM ET

News out of Tibet this week has been bleak. Thousands of Chinese troops descended on the plateau in anticipation of protests marking the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile; the Dalai Lama charged the Chinese government with making Tibet a “hell on earth,” and foreign tourists have been banned from the area. Since Tibetan protests erupted in March 2008, tourism in the region has suffered a steep drop and doesn’t look to recover anytime soon.

Until political tensions ease, we’ll have to make do with this small piece of good news: China just announced new restrictions on construction and advertising near Lhasa’s Potala Palace in an apparent attempt to preserve the complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO has criticized the growing number of shops and restaurants near the palace in recent years, many built to cater to domestic Chinese tourists. 

So, why the announcement this week? China’s official news agency—in reply to the Dalai Lama—asserted that Tibet is in fact a “paradise on earth,” and paradise needs protecting, right?

Julia Ross is a Washington, DC-based writer and frequent contributor to World Hum. She has lived in China and Taiwan, where she was a Fulbright scholar and Mandarin student. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Plenty and other publications. Her essay, Six Degrees of Vietnam, was shortlisted for "The Best American Travel Writing 2009."

2 Comments for This Week in Tibet: Bad News, Good News?

ACTransport 03.14.09 | 11:46 PM ET

It’s a shame we’re still dealing with this mess 50 years later.

Tom 03.27.09 | 7:39 AM ET

Well I have to say that I am sad for this conflict happening in such a beautiful country, God bless them and I hope it will be resolved sooner than later. Tom

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