09 JUL 2012: Tibet's capital will spend billions to build a massive cultural theme park to boost tourism. The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday that 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) will be spent in the next three to five years to build an 800-hectare (3-sqare-mile) park near downtown Lhasa.
Te theme of the park will the story of the ancient Chinese princess Wencheng who became a symbol of ethnic friendship by marrying a Tibetan king.
Xinhua says the park will also showcase Tibetan folk arts and medicine.
Beijing has spent heavily to improve the Tibetan economy in hopes of winning over ethnic residents, but its heavy-handed rule has drawn criticism.
Many Tibetans accuse the government of religious persecution and cultural assimilation and say such huge projects quicken those changes.
I have never visited Tibet, but have had friends and known artists who have. Photographs, sketches and paintings capture and incredibly beautiful, and despite its internal issues, a land that exudes tranquility. The countryside is serene and the iconic images of Lhasa rising out of the mountains unforgettable.
Could there be any country on earth that needs a theme park to attract tourism less than Tibet does?