Visiting the Tibet Autonomous Region could become easier for
foreigners because the local government is considering doing away
with the laissez-passer system, a senior Tibet official said
"The system may not be stamped out this year, but we are
actively mulling its removal and will definitely do away with the
practice at a proper time to make the entry of overseas visitors
into Tibet more convenient," Chairman of the Tibet Qiangba
Puncog said at a press conference in Beijing.
Another project that would attract more overseas visitors is a
highway on Mount Qomolangma, known in the West as Mount Everest,
Qiangba said. The road to the world's highest peak will be
completed before August 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympic
Games. The project will turn a 110-km rough road linking Tingri
County of Xigaze Prefecture at the foot of the Qomolangma Base Camp
into a blacktop highway fenced by undulating guardrails.
Some tourists who visited the Base Camp later complained about
the poor and unsafe condition of the road, prompting
the Tibetan authorities to "rebuild" it, Qiangba said. The
highway will become the major route for tourists and
Listing the infrastructure projects in the region, Qiangba said
environmental protection has always got priority whenever a big
scheme has been planned to protect the region's fragile and
complicated ecological system.
For instance, vast tracks of land along the landmark
Qinghai-Tibet Railway have been effectively protected since it
opened in July last year. Measures have been taken to preserve the
ecology along the 1,956-km tracks, the first ever to link Tibet
with the rest of the country.
A recent field investigation along the route found no evidence
of damage to the environment, he said. The landscape and lakes have
been well preserved and wildlife migration patterns have not
The central government will invest 77.8 billion yuan (US$10.23
billion) on 180 projects and in implementing a range of
preferential policies. Qiangba welcomed the central government's
help and dismissed allegations that the Tibetan people would lose
their culture to the Han way of life.
Of the 2.8 million people in Tibet, 92 percent are of Tibetan
ethnic group, 5 percent are Hans and the rest are from other ethnic
groups, Qiangba said.
"Their custom and traditional festivals remain unchanged even
after millions of tourists have been there the region following the
central government's massive investment in the region," said the
The Tibet is also considering allocating hundreds of
millions of yuan for maintenance and renovation of world heritage
sites and major cultural relics in the region in the next five
years, the official said.
(China Daily June 21, 2007)