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Lhasa denies forcing visitors to watch historic drama on Han-Tibetan unity

2018-08-09 09:58:59 Global Times

The government of Lhasa, capital city of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, has refuted reports in some media that tourists are being required to watch a massive stage show about the positive historic relations enjoyed between ethnic Han and Tibetan people.

The Lhasa government "never required domestic or foreign tourists to watch the show," a Lhasa government official told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"That would be impossible," the official said.

Princess Wencheng, a massive outdoor live-action drama on stage in Lhasa since 2013, tells the story of Tang Dynasty (618-907) Princess Wencheng who married Songtsen Gambo, king of the Tibetan Tubo kingdom about 1,300 years ago.

But some media reported that the Chinese government was making tourists watch the show and "brainwashing" them.

Princess Wencheng and Songtsen Gambo's marriage was believed to have brought ethnic groups together and safeguarded border regions, Tibet Daily reported in 2014.

The marriage also contributed to the development of the Tubo Kingdom.

Wencheng was crowned with glory for developing relations between Han people and Tibetans, and the drama is considered to deliver a constructive theme of Han-Tibetan unity, the report said.

Dai Feng, who runs a travel agency for foreign tourists and moved from Beijing to Lhasa in 2011, repudiated the overseas reports.

"It's never been heard of that foreign tourists were ever pushed to watch the show," Dai said. "But it's possible that some individual tour guides do that in order to pocket the difference in ticket prices."

Guides can buy show tickets through tourism agencies at 55 percent of face value. Tickets at the door cost up to 800 yuan ($123), he said.

Data shows average seat occupancy for the show at about 61 percent since it entering its peak season this year, according to a statement by Usunhome, the production company based in Sichuan Province, sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

From January to July, the show sold 164,000 tickets, and 1 percent went to foreign tourists, the report said.

The number of foreign visitors to Tibet has been increasing, Dai said.

Since April, the monthly number of foreigners traveling to Tibet was about 400 to 500, and that number was expected to reach its peak by September, Dai said.

Foreign visitors are required to apply for a Tibet travel permit before entering the region.

The application usually takes 10 working days and "all applications were smoothly processed," Dai said.

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