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Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage hit as China closes Tibet border

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Over 25,000 foreign tourists planning to visit Kailash Mansarovar through Nepal were forced to change their itinerary after the Chinese government shut down all border points in Tibet, media reported on Monday. Officials cited recent earthquakes in the Himalayan nation as the reason for the same.

Media reports said that the Nepali tourism and civil aviation ministry has asked the foreign ministry to raise the issue with the Chinese side. However, the Chinese side has not made any comment over the shutdown. These 25,000 foreigners booked their tours for Kailash Mansarovar through 38 tour and travel companies in Nepal. No tourist has, however, cancelled bookings so far, the Karobar national daily on Monday quoted Kailash Tour Association chief Prakash Shrestha.

Tourism entrepreneurs have demanded that the tour should be allowed by opening the Hilsa point in Humla district. Shrestha says taking 25,000 foreigners to Kailash Mansarovar through Nepal will be a huge relief at a time when the tourism sector has been hard-hit by the recent earthquake. The entrepreneurs have informed the culture, tourism and civil aviation ministries in this regard but there has been no breakthrough so far.

“A total of 25,000 tourists are still ready to come once we give them the time-table,” an entrepreneur said. China has closed border points at Tatopani, Rasuwa and other places stating that there can be landslides and it would be difficult to travel or trek. Shrestha said the entrepreneurs have urged the government to take initiative to allow tourists to visit Kailash Mansarovar by helicopter or on foot from Nepalgunj-Surkhet, the western part of Nepal that was close to the Hindu pilgrimage site.

Indian, Russian, Malaysian and other European tourists have booked the Kailash Mansarovar tour. Around 80 percent of tourists going to this area are Indians — around 40,000 visit Kailash Mansarovar via Nepal every year. The May-July period is considered the main season to visit Kailash Mansarovar. Nepali tourism entrepreneurs make all arrangements for tourists to visit Kailash Mansarovar. Around 80 percent of these tourists remain in Nepal for 7-10 days while the remaining 20 percent stay for 4-7 days. Tourists visiting Kailash Mansarovar spend the most after those coming for mountaineering.

Entrepreneurs claim that over 100,000 people will get employment if these 25,000 tourists were to come to Nepal immediately. “The government must, therefore, facilitate it,” said an entrepreneur.

Tulasi Gautam, director general of the tourism department, said initiative was being taken at the level of the minister. “The road to Tatopani has already been opened. We are trying to bring these 25,000 tourists to Nepal by any means,” he said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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To Pursue Philanthropy, Alibaba’s Chief Executive Jack Ma Steps Down

Ma is retiring as at a time when the China is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the US and the Chinese economy is facing slowing growth and increasing debt.

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The logo is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. VOA

In a surprising move, China’s richest man, Jack Ma, has revealed plans to step down as the Executive Chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba on Monday to pursue philanthropy in education, paving the way for a change of guard for the $420 billion Internet company that he co-founded.

Ma will turn 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China and known as Teacher’s Day.

In an exclusive New York Times interview, the Chinese billionaire said on Friday that his retirement was not the end of an era but “the beginning of an era”.

“I love education,” the Chinese billionaire said, adding that he would be spending more of his time and fortune focused on education.

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A former English teacher, Ma co-founded Alibaba with 17 others out of his apartment in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 1999.

He built it into one of the world’s most consequential e-commerce and digital payments companies, transforming how Chinese people shop and pay for things which fuelled his net worth to more than $40 billion, making him China’s richest man.

Ma is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth.

Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors and continue to mentor the company’s management.

The retirement makes Ma one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese Internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies.

alibaba
Visitors walk past a giant display at the Alibaba Group headquarters in Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, May 27, 2016. VOA

Firms including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com have flourished in recent years, growing to nearly rival American Internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope and ambition.

Last month, Alibaba reported a 60 per cent increase in quarterly sales, even as profits fell.

The company’s annual revenue totals about 250 billion yuan ($40 billion).

Alibaba has also changed the way people work in China. Millions of people now run their own shops selling goods on its Taobao ecommerce platform or stream their own videos on its entertainment platforms, The Financial Times reported.

Taobao is estimated to have created almost 37m jobs in China, according to a study last year by Renmin University’s School of Labour and Human Resources, the report added.

For Chinese tycoons to step aside in their 50s is rare; they usually remain at the top of their organisations for many years.

Alibaba
Ma is revered by many Chinese, some of whom have put his portrait in their homes to worship in the same way that they worship the God of Wealth. Flickr

In an interview earlier this week, Ma had signaled that he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy. He cited the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

Also Read: Researchers In China Discover a Potential Antibiotic

Ma is retiring as at a time when the China is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the US and the Chinese economy is facing slowing growth and increasing debt, The New York Times report said. (IANS)