Tuesday, September 22, 2009

China Once Again Bans Visits to Tibet

Training exercises in Beijing for Oct. 1st National Day parade [photo by gadgetdan/flickr]

Just days ahead of the 60 year anniversary of communist rule in China, the country has closed Tibet to foreigners and deployed soldiers armed with machine guns into the streets of Beijing. Even kite flying has been banned "as a precaution against aerial hazards" according to the Associated Press. The AP is also reporting the Chinese government has also expanded blocks on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and there has been a marked increase in e-mail spam to foreign journalists that contains spyware.

Prayer flags in Tibet [Photo by Jan-Christian Teller/flickr]

The is not the first sensitive occasion China has closed Tibet to foreign tourists. In March of this year, Beijing banned foreign entry during the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against China that caused the Dalai Lama to go into exile. According to the AFP, state media reports say the strict security controls and travel bans have obliterated Tibet's tourism industry, with visitor arrivals dropping from 4 million in 2007 to 2.2 million in 2008.

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