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China won't re-open Tibet till after Olympics: group

April 11, 2008

BEIJING Thu Apr 10, 2008 (Reuters) - China will not re-open the restive
mountain region of Tibet to foreigners until after the August Olympics,

scrapping plans to try to let tourists back in by early May, a
U.S.-based Tibetan rights group asserted.

The National Tourism Administration as well as the Tibet government and
tourism authority had no immediate comment.

A decision to delay the reopening might indicate that China's Communist
government was still worried that Tibet was unstable and would remain so

for months after a series of protests and a riot in Lhasa on March 14
rocked the region and neighboring areas.

Normally, travel to Tibet is restricted. Foreigners must obtain special
permits and travel in tour groups to visit, and foreign reporters living
in China

are not allowed into the Himalayan region without special permission.

After the outburst of violence in Lhasa, the government stopped issuing
permits, citing safety concerns. State media said Tibet would be re-opened

to foreign travelers from May 1.

"But according to reliable reports it seems that re-opening may now not
be until after the Olympics," the International Campaign for Tibet said
in a

statement.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the government of the
Tibet Autonomous Region was trying its best to restore normalcy and

said the current restrictions "were a special arrangement for a special
period".

The Tibetan anti-Beijing protests and Chinese crackdown have fuelled
vigorous demonstrations along the Olympic torch relay route through London,

Paris and San Francisco. China will attempt to take the flame to the top
of Mt. Everest in May and also plans to bring it through other parts of
Tibet

in June.

In 2006, tourism netted the Tibet Autonomous Region $17.5 million,
according to Chinese media.

(Writing by John Ruwitch, additional reporting by Guo Shipeng and Sally
Huang; Editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani)
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