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Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tibet reopened to foreign tourists

June 26, 2008

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— Tibet reopened to foreign tourists on Wednesday, three months after the Chinese government banned such visits in the wake of violent anti-government riots and protests that tainted the image of the country ahead of the Olympics.

The first foreign tourists, a retired Swedish couple, arrived at the airport near the capital, Lhasa, on Wednesday, said Tibetan Tourism Bureau spokesman Liao Lisheng.

"Tibet is open now to all travelers from home and abroad," he said.

The Himalayan region has been all but closed to the outside world since the biggest protests against Chinese rule in two decades exploded into rioting March 14 in Lhasa, leading Beijing to swiftly shut off the area.

Troops also flooded into predominantly Tibetan communities in nearby provinces, where sympathy demonstrations were occurring. They performed drills in town squares and set up checkpoints around sensitive areas. Officials said the restrictions were established for the safety of foreign tourists and journalists.

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