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China Plans $4.7 Billion Tibet Theme Park

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In this Aug. 13, 2004 file photo, a young Buddhist monk stands near prayer's wheels at Jokhang Temple in Barkhor in Lhasa, Tibet, far west of China. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File) | AP

BEIJING -- 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-sqaure-mile) park near downtown. Its theme will be 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.

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