China has completed a seven-year renovation of Tibet’s Potala Palace — home to the Dalai Lamas until the region’s current spiritual leader fled during an aborted uprising against Communist rule 50 years ago.
China says the project is part of its plan to promote Tibetan culture and language in the region as it develops its economy, of which tourism forms a major part. The renovation, which also repaired the Norbu Lingka, a summer palace for the Dalai Lamas, cost 300 million yuan ($43.9 million), according to a report Monday from the state-run news agency.
But many Tibetan exiles say the Himalayan region’s cultural heritage has been threatened by Beijing’s restrictions on the native Buddhist religion and the Tibetan language as well as a government-orchestrated mass migration of Han Chinese in the last three decades. A large number of monasteries and other artifacts also were destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976, although the Potala was spared in the violence.