(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Tibetan rights groups have criticized a UN cultural organization decision to extend world heritage status to an extensive plateau area, saying it reinforces Chinese control in the region.
The groups argue the UNESCO designation will allow Chinese authorities to remove residents from the area, known as Hoh Xil, and threaten its environment and nomadic culture.
"The (UNESCO) Committee ignored the reality that Tibetans, and nomads in particular, are stewards of the landscape whose role is essential to sustaining the wildlife," said Kai Mueller, executive director of the International Campaign for Tibet.
The area has an elevation of more than 4,500 meters (14,764 feet) and is home to several endemic species as well as the entire migratory route of the endangered Tibetan antelope.