he top Communist Party official in Tibet has declared that foreigners should really be thanking China for not allowing them to travel around freely in the remote and mountainous region, claiming that their weak foreign constitutions couldn’t handle the altitude.
At a press conference on Wednesday on the sidelines of the meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, Wu Yingjie, CPC secretary of Tibet, said that foreign tourists are welcome in Tibet and that any restrictions on their travel is really just in the best interests of their health.
Citing the region’s “special geographical and climatic conditions,” Wu said that some foreign tourists have difficulties with adjusting to the high altitudes of Tibet, even claiming that locals have been discovering the corpses of such travelers.
“The ordinary people tell us, there’s a tent, the people inside have been dead for many days, with the lack of oxygen,” Reuters quotes Wu as saying, noting that he failed to elaborate further on this point.
Wu went on to claim that some foreigners thank the government for its concern over their well-being, but that Americans instead choose to “brood” about the help given to them.
In December, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act which seeks to bar those officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet from entering the US — officials like Wu.
Wu’s altitude excuse mirrors the one given by Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the US, in an interview last October with NPR. Foreigners traveling to Tibet have to be part of an organized tour and acquire special permits. For journalists, approved travel in the region is essentially impossible.
Neither Wu nor Cui explained why the same restrictions are not applied to Chinese travelers, millions of whom visit the region each year, equipped with their apparently genetically superior set of lungs.