Entries in Tibet (6)


China Forbids International Tourism to Tibet Indefinitely

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- In a matter of days, the number of expected foreign visitors to Tibet has gone from millions to zero.

Chinese authorities alerted foreign travel agencies on Tuesday that they would no longer be issuing entry permits to Tibet, the latest in a series of regulations being put on travelers there. The announcement follows the self-immolation of two Tibetans last week.

Tibet is no stranger to Chinese interference in its tourism industry.  Tibet’s failed rebellion in March 1959 and the event’s annual memorial on National Uprising Day has chronically put the region at odds with the People’s Republic of China.  

In 2008, protests after National Uprising Day turned into riots that were met with violence by PRC forces.  The Chinese government temporarily closed Tibet to foreign visitors.  That is now an annual practice in March, and during other national events significant to the Chinese government.

Now, many are saying that the latest in a string of Tibetan self-immolations led to the country’s shutdown to outsiders.  According to Free Tibet, a campaign promoting Tibetan independence from China, there have been more than 30 self-immolations since March 2011.  Most recently, on May 27, 2012, two Tibetans were the first to set themselves on fire in Lhasa, Tibet’s tightly-controlled administrative capital.  

The shutdown also coincides with the Saga Dawa festival, which celebrates the Buddha’s birth and draws many Buddhists to Tibet.  This year, the festival began on June 4, which is also the anniversary of the Chinese government crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.

While many tourism agencies have learned to adapt and predict the trends on tourism bans, this closure comes as something of a shock.  According to Nellie Connelly, marketing director of WildChina, a prominent travel company that regularly coordinates trips to Tibet, Chinese authorities informed the company in mid-May that travelers would only be allowed to visit Tibet in groups of five people of the same nationality.  Last week, the government stopped issuing entry permits to Tibet altogether.  

Connelly is in the process of rerouting customers whose Tibetan vacations are affected by the new ban.  Only those Chinese nationals are allowed to enter the region.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dalai Lama Reveals Fears of Assassination Attempt

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Dalai Lama is voicing concerns the Chinese are plotting his assassination.

In an exclusive interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, the Dalai Lama shared details he says come directly from sources inside Tibet on how the Chinese would kill him.

Based on this information, he says Chinese agents inside Tibet are training Tibetan women to pose as devotees in an attempt to poison him.

“We received some sort of information from Tibet,” he told the Sunday Telegraph, “Some Chinese agents training some Tibetans, especially young women, you see, using poison – the hair poisoned and the scarf poisoned – they were supposed to seek blessings from me, and my hand touch.”

His aides were not able to confirm the reports but emphasized the importance of maintaining his safety. The Dalai Lama lives in a secure area in his temple palace grounds in Dharamsala, in the Himalayan foothills of India where his government-in-exile is located.

Tensions are high between Tibetans advocating for independence and China.

Reports are China is making a bolder attempt to nullify Tibetan language and culture as it seeks to fully occupy the region.

This year alone there have been more than 30 incidents of self-immolation; Tibetans setting themselves on fire in protest of Chinese rule. Nearly all have died.

The Dalai Lama told the Sunday Telegraph that he believes the two sides can reach an agreement within his lifetime, but that Chinese interference in finding his reincarnation following his death could mean he is the last Dalai Lama.

The Chinese rejected the young boy whom the Dalai Lama designated as his successor and has installed Panchen Lama as their approved heir apparent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


China Presses Obama to Cancel Meeting with Dalai Lama

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- China is demanding that President Obama cancel his planned meeting Saturday with the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China does firmly "oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama" due to perceived threat to "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The Chinese argue that the Dalai Lama is a dangerous "separatist" who wishes to sever Tibet from China.  His last visit to the White House in February 2010 caused a diplomatic spat between the U.S. and China and now Lei says a meeting this weekend could further damage China-U.S. relations.

China requests that the U.S. honor a "commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes 'Tibet independence,'" Lei said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boehner, Pelosi Welcome Dalai Lama to Capitol

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi welcomed the Dalai Lama to the Capitol Thursday, praising his commitment to spread freedom throughout the world while highlighting his unique historical relationship with the United States.

“It’s truly an honor and a privilege to welcome the Dalai Lama to the United States Capitol,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “The bond between the Dalai Lama and the American people has been strong for so long that it’s no surprise that he -- his visits are highly anticipated, and I think rightly so.”

“Wherever he goes the Dalai Lama makes his tireless dedications to the values that we all cherish. He makes them apparent and he makes it a bit contagious. His example humbles nations such as ours that work to spread freedom, tolerance and respect for human dignity, and it sustains those who struggle to secure these universal values for themselves and for their families,” Boehner said. “We appreciate that the Dalai Lama is taking time to speak with us about how we can help spread our shared values, not just in Tibet and China, but the Middle East as well. We extend to you, your holiness, on behalf of the people that we serve our solidarity, our support and our hope that you’ll come back soon.”

Pelosi, D-Calif., said she agreed with Boehner that the Dalai Lama is “the source of understanding.”

“I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve come together under the dome of the Capitol a number of times to honor his Holiness,” Pelosi said. “It is with great admiration -- even I would say affection -- and really a great historic honor to join our distinguished Speaker, our colleagues in a bipartisan way to welcome his Holiness once again to the Capitol of the United States.”

Pelosi recalled that the Dalai Lama’s association with the U.S. and its presidents “goes way back.”

“President George Walker Bush in 2007 was present to present to his holiness the Congressional Gold Medal. At that time he did so honoring the commitment of his holiness to peace, to non-violence, to human rights and to religious understanding,” Pelosi said. “When he was a very little boy and first became the Dalai Lama, President Franklin Roosevelt sent him a watch recognizing his love -- even as a little boy -- for science and technology.”

“It was a watch that had the phases of the moon on it, and it’s always a source of great pride to us that this relationship between our two countries and leaders goes back so far,” she added.

When it became his turn to speak, the Dalai Lama, who just celebrated his 76th birthday, joked that he had nothing to say, and then explained his recent decision to hand over political authority to China and step down as Tibet’s exiled political leader.

“The main reason I believe the country ruled by kings or queens or religious leaders -- they’re outdated,” the Dalai Lama said. “And in fact, the religious institution [and] political institution must be separate.”

“I really felt now is the right time,” he added. “So therefore, I have full confidence now they can take full responsibility -- the elected leadership, by the people themselves -- so they can carry full responsibility.”

The Dalai Lama is in Washington to take part in an ancient Buddhist ritual and a call for world peace. It is possible that he will meet with President Obama at the White House, although he has never been welcomed into the Oval Office.

The Dalai Lama's last visit to the U.S. capital in February 2010 caused a diplomatic spat between the U.S. and China when he met with the president at the White House. The Chinese argue that the Dalai Lama is a dangerous "separatist" who wishes to sever Tibet from China.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Thousands Flock to Dalai Lama's Ancient Buddhist Ritual in DC

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Dalai Lama will celebrate his 76th birthday Wednesday in downtown Washington, D.C., as thousands gather to take part in an ancient Buddhist ritual and a call for world peace.

Meanwhile, international political observers are waiting to see if the exiled Tibetan leader will be granted a meeting with President Obama, just a few blocks away.

It will be the Nobel Peace Prize winner's first official event since stepping down as Tibet's exiled political leader in March and his first since his February 2010 visit to Washington that caused tension in U.S.-Chinese relations.

The grandson and son of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. -- two international icons of nonviolence -- and tens of thousands of followers from around the world are expected to attend the ceremonies at Washington's major sports arena and pay their respects to the Dalai Lama's enduring message of peace.

But even while the majority of his time will be spent conducting religious ceremonies, the Dalai Lama will also have several political meetings in Washington, advocating for the religious and civil rights of his Tibetan Buddhist followers who fled their homeland after a failed 1959 uprising against the Chinese government.

Thousands of exiled Tibetans now live in Nepal, where on Wednesday Nepalese authorities prevented Tibetans from celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday over concerns the gatherings would turn anti-Chinese.  Hundreds of riot police reportedly blocked Tibetans, including many monks and nuns, from entering a school in Kathmandu where celebrations were planned.

The Dalai Lama's last visit to Washington in February 2010 caused a diplomatic spat between the U.S. and China when he met with President Obama at the White House.  The Chinese argue that the Dalai Lama is a dangerous "separatist" who wishes to sever Tibet from China.

The Obama administration has not said whether the president or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with the Dalai Lama on this visit -- although he is expected to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill later this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dalai Lama's Nephew Killed by Car During Walkathon

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.) -- Those participating in a Walk for Tibet event with Jigme Norbu, the nephew of the Dalai Lama, the day he was struck and killed by a car said he was so dedicated to the cause that he insisted on pressing on after dark with the walk.

Monday night, Norbu, 45, was hit and killed by a car while walking along Highway A1A just 25 miles south of St. Augustine, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Norbu had begun his walk in part to commemorate and carry on the works of the Dalai Lama and his late father, said Donna Kim-Brand, who planned the logistics of the Valentine's Day walk. She was driving ahead of Norbu for most of yesterday.

"After a while, about 20 miles, my back was starting to hurt...he [Norbu] said he was going to keep going another five to six miles," said fellow walker Wangchuk Dorjee. Dorjee got into the van being driven by Kim-Brand.

"He [Norbu] sent us ahead to stake out a dinner place and he said he would join us after he walked two more miles for the cause," Kim-Brand said.

While Norbu was wearing sneakers with reflectors, he did not have any reflective tape on his clothing, Kim-Brand said. He was walking with traffic wearing a white sign that said, "Walk for Tibet, for world peace, human rights and Tibetan independence."

Kim-Brand and Dorjee went ahead of Norbu despite their reservations about him walking in the dark. They usually never walk in the dark, they said.

The two waited at a restaurant for Norbu. They called his cell phone repeatedly with no answer.

"We got the call from the trooper who informed us that he'd been struck from behind," Kim-Brand said through tears.

"I walked with him many, many miles and of course, you know the blisters, but he never complained. He always said, it's blisters are nothing compared to what happens in brothers and sisters suffering," Dorjee said. Norbu was "always laughing" and "dedicated" to the work of his uncle, he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio