China to again close Tibet during sensitive period
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN | Associated Press – 14 hrs ago
BEIJING (AP) — For a fifth straight year, China plans to close Tibet to foreign travelers during a sensitive period starting in mid-February, travel agents said Thursday.
Agent Yu Zhi of the Lhasa Youth Tourist Agency said Thursday the government's tourist administration in Tibet's capital had informed agents that foreign travelers would be banned from Feb. 20 to March 30.
The periodic closure of the Himalayan region encompasses the Feb. 22-24 Tibetan new year festival of Losar as well as the anniversary of a deadly anti-government riot among Tibetans on March 14, 2008.
Tensions are especially high this year following the self-immolations of at least 16 Buddhist monks, nuns and other Tibetans. Most have chanted for Tibetan freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.