China Wants Foreigner Free Tibet For July

Chinese authorities have banned foreign tourists from entering Tibet until late July, after the anniversaries of both the Chinese Communitist Party and Beijing's forceful annexation of Tibet.

Radio Free Asia is reporting that the Chinese government has planned a large (and politically sensitive) celebration to honor both anniversaries. The Dalai Lama, whose July 6 birthday brings added foreign scrutiny on the Chinese treatment of Tibetan dissidents, is probably not waiting by his mailbox in Dharamsala for his invitation.

The summer travel ban, which comes after a similar lockout in March during the 52nd anniversary of a Tibetan national uprising, neatly illustrates the paradox of China's tourism aspirations: Beijing wants a steady stream of foreigners coming to "the roof of the world," but is uncomfortable with them actually being there.

A notification explaining that "Foreigners traveling in China must abide by Chinese law and must not endanger the national security of China, harm its Public interests, disturb the Public order, or engage in any other activities incompatible with tourists status," hangs in almost every hotel room in Lhasa.

In late May, Chinese officials loudly trumpeted the opening of the first five star hotel in Tibet, the St. Regis Lhasa Resort, but the five super luxury hotels that are supposed to open within the next four years may frequently only be open to affluent Chinese tourists.

How much foreign currency Beijing will forego by banning travel is still unclear as many foreign travelers scrupulously follow the Free Tibet campaign's strategies for avoiding subsidizing the Chinese presence in the Tibet.

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