China Begins Building new Airport in Tibet

Chinese state media say construction has begun on the fifth civilian airport in the remote and restless region of Tibet.

The official Xinhua news agency says the government will spend about $70 million to build the airport in Tibet's second largest city, Shigatse.

The report says construction of the airport will take about two years and the facility will eventually be able to accommodate 230,000 passengers per year.

Chinese officials say the project will boost tourism, promote development and raise living standards.

Tibetan activists, however, say the development only speeds up the pace of Chinese migration to the region and government efforts to dilute Tibetan Buddhist culture.

In addition to the airport, China has also already begun building a new 254-kilometer railway line from Lhasa to Shigatse, which is expected to be finished in 2010.

Tibet was rocked last year by anti-Chinese protests and violence that dragged down tourist numbers to the region.

Some information for this report was provided by Xinhua and Reuters.