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China Plans $5 Billion Theme Park in Tibet

From the Guardian:

Old Dog (dir. Pema Tseden)

Chinese officials have announced plans to build a £3bn (US$ 5 billion) Tibetan culture theme park outside Lhasa in three to five years. Authorities see developing tourism as crucial to the economic future of Tibet and have set a goal of attracting 15 million tourists a year by 2015, generating up to 18bn yuan (£1.8bn), in a region with a population of just 3 million. But Tibetan groups have expressed concern that the surge in tourism has also eroded traditional culture and that the income has economically benefited Han Chinese more than Tibetans.—– The mayor said it would include attractions themed around Princess Wencheng – the seventh-century niece of a Tang-dynasty emperor who married a king from Tibet’s Yarlung dynasty – whose tale has been embraced by Chinese authorities as a parable of ethnic harmony. Professor Robert Barnett, an expert on Tibetan culture at Columbia University, said that while some officials had talked about environmentally and culturally appropriate tourism in Tibet, “this represents a nail in the coffin – symbolically and perhaps practically – of attempts by Tibetans and Chinese to promote that.” He added: “To recoup that cost, you have to have tourism on an unimaginable scale.” Barnett said Tibetans might well go to the theme park themselves, but would also be likely to question whether it was good for their culture and worth the huge investment.

The films of Tibetan Chinese filmmaker Pema Tseden (Wanman Caidan) thoroughly explore issues concerning the fate of Tibet’s cultural heritage within modern China. Learn about his newest award-winning feature Old Dog, which depicts the unexpected price paid when a Tibetan man tries to sell his family’s highly prized Tibetan mastiff for a fast profit.


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