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Lobbying group: Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, others barred from Tibet

December 20, 1996 GMT

BEIJING (AP) _ China has barred several Hollywood celebrities involved in movies about Tibet from travel in the Himalayan region, a U.S.-based lobbying group said Friday.

Brad Pitt, Martin Scorsese, Harrison Ford and others on the alleged blacklist are connected to ``Kundun,″ a Walt Disney Co. film about the exiled Tibetan religious leader Dalai Lama. China has sought to discourage Disney from releasing the film.

Chinese troops have occupied Tibet since 1950, and China accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting an independence movement there.

Tourists reported seeing the Hollywood blacklist posted earlier this year at the state-run travel agency’s office in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, according to the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, D.C.

The list includes more than 50 Westerners who should not be given papers for travel in Tibet, said the Campaign for Tibet, which has links to Tibet’s government-in-exile.

Chinese officials denied any knowledge of a blacklist.

``If the list existed, I would know about it, and I promise, I’ve never seen the list,″ said Liu Weiqiang at the China International Travel Service in Beijing.

In the past, China has barred dissidents and other people it apparently views as hostile or a threat. China also regularly refuses permission for reporters to visit Tibet.

If it does exist, the blacklist would represent another downturn in relations between China and Hollywood. Earlier this month, 41 Hollywood celebrities wrote the Chinese government criticizing it for its objections to the Dalai Lama movie.

The film was written by Melissa Mathison Ford, wife of actor Harrison Ford. Both are on the blacklist, Campaign for Tibet said.

Brad Pitt, director Jean-Jacques Annaud and British producer Ian Smith, all of whom allegedly are on the list, also were involved in another movie about the Himalayan region, ``Seven Years in Tibet.″

Richard Gere was notable for his absence from the list, despite his frequently voiced support for the Dalai Lama.

The blacklist appeared in September, before news of China’s objections to ``Kundun,″ Campaign for Tibet said. Disney said it would distribute the film despite China’s complaints.