China opens new Tibet airport
AFP[Saturday, September 02, 2006 10:39]
Beijing - China opened a new airport in Tibet two months after launching a railway line from Beijing to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, that has boosted the region's tourist potential, state media said.

A first plane touched down at the new airport at Nyingchi on Friday after a 90-minute flight from Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The airport, which is the third to be opened in Tibet after one in Lhasa and another in Qamdo in the east of the region, was built in less than two years and cost 780m yuan ($96.2m), the report said.

The airport hopes to welcomoe 120 000 passengers a year.

Critics of China's rule of Tibet say new infrastructure like the railway and the airport allow China's ethnic Han majority to migrate en-masse to the remote Himalayan region, exploit more easily its resources and consolidate in general its political and military control.

Tibet has been ruled by China since its troops "liberated" the region in 1950. The region's spirutual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India in 1959 as a Tibetan uprising failed and established his government-in-exile in Dharamsala.

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