Chinese authorities sealed off Tibet and adjacent areas to local tourism in the run-up to the March anniversary of a 1959 uprising that led to the exile of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.

The anniversary also marks the date when Beijing ended a failed three-year revolt against Chinese rule in Tibet.

Tibetan communities erupted in violent protests against Chinese rule last year, drawing a swift clampdown by paramilitary forces that have remained in place.