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?