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China Human Rights Net > News > Focus > Dalai Clique's Separatist Activities Condemned > Facts
Feature: Lhasa's slow road to recovery
 
 

LHASA, April 11, 2008 -- People sit in the park behind the Potala Palace, having a rest after praying. New metal doors at the burnt stores shine in the sun. Visitors are returning to violence-hit Lhasa where life is returning to normal.

More than 20 Tibetan pilgrims worshipped on the Potala square on Friday morning while hundreds more were touching and turning prayer wheels surrounding the red and white Potala Palace.

"People come here to pray as on normal days," said 80-year-old Wanglag, "I have been coming here everyday recently."

The Potala reopened to the public on March 26 after more than 10 days of closure for security reasons. Only two dozen tourists and 75 religious pilgrims visited the palace that day.

"There is still a lack of business because there are not so many visitors, but the number is increasing steadily," said Liu Jijun, owner of a Tibetan handicraft shop below the Palace.

"I'm still confident of business opportunities here."

The Potala Palace, which sits at an altitude of 3,700 meters, was first built in the seventh century and used as a winter residence of the Dalai Lamas. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sun Wenran, 25, and her boyfriend arrived in Lhasa by train from Shanghai on April 7 for a four-day visit.

"Some bars and other entertainment places are restarting their businesses, but not so many people are out enjoying the night life. But we feel safe here", Sun said.

"People here are friendly and the police are kind. They often remind us to take care."

She is now busy finding other visitors to share a car in their trips outside Lhasa.

Foreigners, however, were still advised not to enter Tibet. Following the March 14 turmoil, the Tibet government has suspended handling the application of foreigners to travel to Tibet for safety concerns. Those already in Tibet were also advised to leave soon.

Tibet received more than 365,000 foreign tourists last year. Both the government and businessmen in tourism sectors hope the market could expand this year.

Run by the US-based Tibet Poverty Alleviation Fund, Dropenling Shop has been selling local traditional handcrafts to tourists. It earned more than 2 million yuan (286,000 U.S. dollars) last year, a large part from foreign tourists.

But the staff member predicted the market would not return to normal until May. The shop began to sell art online so as to explore overseas markets.

For Chinese businessmen, the Lhasa violence last month seemed not to have dampened their confidence in the potential of the market.

Landun, one of Lhasa's biggest shops selling children's clothes, opened its first floor, although rebuilding and decoration had not even started.

The four-storey shop was burnt and looted, leaving the owner Jia Xuanchi with little to sell.

Jia came from eastern Zhejiang Province and has been doing business in Lhasa for 25 years.

"The government has worked out some preferential policies for affected businessmen. I'm not going to give up the market in Lhasa," he said.

He has a reason to stay. Shoppers crowded on Friday at the former site of fire and destruction, disregarding the black walls and disordered arrangement of clothes. Besides, according to the government's promise, he will not have to pay personal income tax from March 1 this year to April 28, 2010.

The Lhasa violence caused an economic loss of 280 million yuan (40 million U.S. dollars) in property damage. Many shops on Duosenge Road were still closed after the riots because of a lack of business, but owners left their names and contacts on their doors, telling customers that they would return one day.

 
from: Xinhuanet
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