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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China official: Tibetan areas closed to foreigners

February 13, 2009

February 12, 2009

BEIJING (AP) — Swaths of western China that have large Tibetan
populations have been declared off limits to foreign visitors, local
officials confirmed Thursday, ahead of the politically sensitive 50th
anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising.

An official at the tourism office of northwestern Gansu province's
Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which is home to a major monastery and
large Tibetan communities, said the region was again closed to
foreigners and would not be open until late March. The official, who did
not identify himself, as is common in China, did not say when the
restrictions were put in place.

March 10 marks the 50th anniversary of a failed rebellion in Tibet
against Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama was forced to flee into exile in
India after the uprising was crushed.

Last year, protests to mark the anniversary spun out of control, with
deadly riots breaking out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

The Chinese government says 22 people died in the riots, but Tibetan
advocates say many times that number were killed in the protests and
subsequent crackdown.

Sympathy protests quickly spread outside Tibet to neighboring provinces
of Gansu, Sichuan, and Qinghai, which all have large ethnic Tibetan
communities. However, they were quelled by a huge military presence
installed in the area.

Tibet itself has always been off-limits to the international media
unless special permits are obtained. China did put on a rare and tightly
controlled tour of Tibet this week for some foreign reporters. Several
organizations, including The Associated Press, were excluded.

In Sichuan province, many areas open two weeks ago are now closed to
foreign tourists until April, according to officials at the Ganzi
prefecture tourist bureau. Only three counties in that prefecture will
remain open to foreigners. Qinghai province has also closed many areas
to foreigners.

On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu described the current
situation in Tibet as "stable" but acknowledged that foreign reporters
have had difficulty accessing the area.

"Since the March 14 incident, it's true that foreign journalists find it
harder to go to Tibet. I think you all know the reasons. The government
has taken some measures," she said.

Several journalists have reported being expelled from Tibetan-populated
areas in China in the past week.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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