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Controversial Tibet Theme Park Project Launched

Last month, the Chinese government announced that it will launch a RMB 30 billion (USD 4.7 billion) theme park project in Tibet to attract tourists. The park will first be used as a shooting location for the movie Princess Wencheng, a story about the niece of a Tang-dynasty emperor who married a Tibetan king.

It is located on the outskirts of the city of Lhasa and will occupy 800 hectares of land. Tibetan dissidents have described the project as the “Disneyfication of Tibet” rather than a genuine sharing and preservation of Tibetan culture.

Putting aside the political and ideological debates, even within circle of Han Chinese, the development project is highly controversial. Sina Weibo user @1690737580 posted some photos [zh] she took from the designated theme park construction site and confessed she felt great pity for the loss of such an environment to the development:

Cijiaolin Village. Photos taken by Sina User @1690737580

Cijiaolin Village. Photos taken by Sina User @1690737580

次角林沟,距拉萨城区只有2公里,相传曾是文成公主进藏后随行人员的聚居地,是藏民过林卡的绝佳去处。有山有水,有大片平整的草地,可以远眺布达拉宫。三年内这里就要建什么文化旅游创意园,要建文成公主主题公园,还要盖四星级酒店~~发展旅游肯定有这样那样的好处,但其实我倒希望保持这样,该有多好。

Cijiaolin village is just 2 kilometres away from Lhasa city. According to the legend, this is where the Princess Wencheng and her servant settled down. This is a marvelous spot for Tibetans to take time out. It is surrounded by mountains and rivers, with a large piece of grassland. You can see the Potala Palace [formerly the chief residence of the Dalai Lama] from there. Within three years, such scenery will be replaced by a so-called cultural park, the Princess Wencheng theme park, with a 4 star hotel. Of course there will be some advantage in developing tourism, but I really hope everything remains the same here.

At the Netease micro-blog, a forum [zh] has been set up to collect netizens’ opinions on the issue. In support:

况勇 :我支持下拉萨,必定是一个不错的投资项目,政府只是推动者不可能拿很多钱出来,这是招商引资啊,多好!不但对本地旅游很有帮助还可以围绕这工程建设很多相关配套的基础建设如:马路啊大桥啊,对人民也是不错的。还能为拉萨造势使其成为国际旅游圣地。

@0147739241: I want to express my support for Lhasa. This must be a good project. The government as a facilitator cannot invest all the money, this is a call for investment. It not only helps the development of local tourism, but also a lot of construction projects such as roads and bridges. This is good for the people. Lhasa will be promoted to be an international tourism site.

bayniwffg :提倡文化传承是好事,但是就不敢保证这些款项是否能落到实处,杜绝铺张浪费,因为我国还有很多孩子吃不饱,睡不暖,上不了学的。

@bayniwffg: It is good to provide heritage. Just not sure if the fund really will go to the right spot or will be wasted. We still have many kids who are starving and who can't afford education.

Below are some opinions from netizens who are against the project:

Potala Palace in Lhasa has always been a touristic attraction in Tibet. Photo by Flickr user Jamie Barras (CC: NC-SA)

Potala Palace in Lhasa has always been a touristic attraction in Tibet. Photo by Flickr user Jamie Barras (CC: NC-SA)

行色匆匆 :不应该建主题公园。拉萨本身就具有良好的原生态自然资源、民族风情和人文气息,不需要再搞神马主题公园这种人为景观、风情来招客,如果搞了非但招不了游客,还将拉萨、西藏原本在人们心目中的良好印象给破坏掉,游客反而会减少,而且还造成投资浪费。

@xsccld187: We should not build the theme park. Lhasa has rich natural resources, ethnic character and culture. No need to use theme parks and artificial constructions to attract tourists. If the project fails, it will ruin people's positive image of Lhasa and the number of tourists will drop. Eventually this will be a waste.

乌云遮不住太阳 :做正事一分钱都没有,到处哭穷,乱七八糟的事,哪都不差钱

@410753237: when we need money for the right cause, you cry and say you are so poor. For a messy project like this, you have all the money.

老鼠皇帝首席村妇 :去西藏是为了离天堂和灵魂更近一点,是希望感受那里的纯净的山水和执着的信仰,我们要看的是真实的活着的西藏,而不是这些打着文化的牌的恶俗的无风格不气质的人造景观。300亿?还是省下来为改善民生做点实在的事儿吧。

@ratpetty: The reason for us to travel to Tibet is to get closer to heaven and the spiritual world, to experience the purity of belief surrounded by mountains and rivers. We want to see the real living Tibet not the artificial and vulgar construction under the euphemism of culture and art. RMB 30 billion? Spend it on the people and improve their livelihood.

10 comments

  • Giyqhun

    That is totally…not right….wow…just blows my mind…what the cost of “Disney conglomerate/s ” see in destroying the land ….just not right

  • maushel

    if you want tourist try allowing them in!

    oh wait , monks beaten up by police and a vicious attack on the Culture, religion, people, nature and heritage is hard to sell? i went some years ago and fell in love with the culture and saw crystal clear the destruction brought by the government in bejing.

    I sallute the tibetans that light up and heal the world.

    Down with the chineeze government!

  • Cleo

    Tibetan culture like the other Himalayan cultures never had enough money to really become something that would take more than a lifetime to peruse. A theme park is always used to pull civilian interest into a dead zone like Anaheim in California, Orlando in Central Florida and the marshlands that were the ocean front real estate of fabricated Shanghai. Tung Chung in Hong Kong is a dead zone and even now doesn’t have full occupancy in its apartment buildings.

    The Himalayas and the nearby parts of India and China are only of interest to German and Japanese campers and gay spies who want to marry a “real” Tibetan.

    If someone offered me an EU citizenship if I were willing to be an anti-China Tibetan, I guess I would go along but I couldn’t expect anything from the Allies if I did. I would have to sleep in the bed I made with a German from Switzerland (Kuhn Rikon is overpriced and just silly), from Austria or even … GERMANY.

  • Cleo

    You can say whatever you want to keep your jobs at Kuhn Rikon but Nepal and Bhutan would kill for this type of investment and so would any backwater town or even a NYC borough that needs heavy deep investment. I would LOVE to Epcot Little Italy and Chinatown in NYC.

    Have you been to a Disney theme park? Those things are money factories and CREATE jobs – you know, JOBS – like the ones Tibetans sneaking into Tibet with Nepalese passports are able to get that they can’t get anywhere else, like the Tibetans cooking in the kitchens of Grand Sichuan in New York City.

    JOBS.

    You’re welcome.

    China is so easy to bad mouth unlike Voldemort Japan and Germany who disrespectfully measured Tibetan skulls on their mystical excuse for infiltrating the Himalayas. Just because you have a Tibetan last name doesn’t make you a sacred cow and a non bullying. This is definitely character assassination.

    How are the Tibetans not working against the Allies in the Orc-Goblin war? Are they just innocent collateral damage in this game being played worldwide?

    • Bruce

      The money this “development” generates will go into the pockets of the Chinese Communist Party, period. It may benefit the Han Chinese who are flooding into and occupying Tibet, but, mark my words, it WILL NOT go into the pockets of Tibetans, nor will Tibetans have any say in the “development.” To compare this development to anything in New York or Japan or Germany is ludicrous. Cleo must be a stooge of the CCP.

  • kwc

    maushel,

    to people like you, effort to boost tourist in Tibet is not right, trying to preserve the security of Tibet is also not right, improve education of Tibetan children is opposed by you, trying to help Tibetans to improve their living conditions you will dismiss it as whitewashing Tibetan’s culture. When the government do nothing, you will say they have neglected the Tibetan people. To people like you, it is only good to see wars in other countries. see other countries suffer while you clap your hands celebrating.

  • […] Chinese government recently announced that it intends to launch a USD $4.7 billion theme park project in Tibet to attract tourists. The Tibetan Theme Park – located on the outskirts of the city of […]

  • Cleo

    There’s nothing there. Nothing in Mongolia either so forget about expecting people to travel to the nosebleed seats to look at GRASS.

  • Cleo

    Last night’s Nepal episode of House Hunters International on hgtv.com was very interesting. The antique homes looked very traditionally Chinese but there is no industry there so it’s not enough to have white people roughing it so they can flatter your children everyday – that’s not what made America successful – people NEED jobs and as an ordinary person, my money would repeatedly got to Disney World, Hong Kong and maybe Paris and London and Nepal or Tibet would be ZERO on my list.

  • How completely naive and ignorant of you. There is so much more than simply GRASS in both Tibet and Inner Mongolia. These are perhaps some of the most culturally rich areas in the world, not to mention scenically beautiful. Maybe you should leave your house and explore the world a little more before making uninformed judgements about places you’ve never seen.

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