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The Chinese regime plans to ban foreign travellers from Tibet for the fifth consecutive year. Various travel agencies in Lhasa have been informed that foreigners will be prohibited from entering Tibet from February 20th to March 30th. It's a sensitive period that includes the Tibetan New Year and the anniversary of the 2008 protest against Chinese Communist rule.
On Thursday, various travel agencies in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa said the Chinese-Lhasa Tourist Bureau informed them that foreigners would not be allowed to visit Tibet from February 20th until March 30th.
This is the 5th consecutive year the Chinese regime closes Tibet to foreign travelers.
The Associated Press cited Lhasa Youth Tourist Agency's employee Yu Zhi saying, "We haven't seen a written notice, but it's the same as previous bans. We were not told about the reasons."
The closure is during the Tibetan New Year and the March 14th anniversary of the 2008 protest against the Chinese regime's rule over Tibet.
[Kate Saunders, Communications Dir., Int'l Campaign for Tibet]:
"Ever since March 2008, there's been a very intense crackdown in Tibetan areas. And so this February-March period that's coming up is very sensitive for the Chinese authorities."
UK-based Free Tibet Director says the closure reflects the situation inside Tibet is "far from harmonious."
[Stephanie Brigden, UK-based Free Tibet Director]:
"What I think is critical is that the situation inside Tibet, given the self-immolations that started in 2011 and continue right up until this week underlines that we've a crisis situation inside Tibet."