Times Wire Reports

China has completed a seven-year renovation of Tibet’s Potala Palace -- the former seat of power of the region’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who 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 Norbulingka, a summer palace for the Dalai Lama, cost $43.9 million, according to a report 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.