Dharamshala: Chinese President Xi Jinping has made a rare visit to the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) from 21-23 July. This was his first visit to the region since taking charge as President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2013.
Xi was also said to have visited Nyingtri, a region bordering India’s Arunachal Pradesh before coming to Tibet’s capital Lhasa on Thursday. In video clips released on social media, Xi was seen speaking to people on the street in front of the Potala palace. Xi was accompanied by Wu Yingjie, Party Secretary of TAR, and Che Dalha, Chairman of TAR, and other officials.
Responding to news of the visit, Additional Secretary Tenzin Lekshay, Spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration, said:
“The Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Lhasa and Nyingtri with great pomposity. I think this is his first visit to Tibet as President. With this visit, he should understand the real aspirations of Tibet and consider that the Tibet issue is a long-pending issue which is still unsolved. He should initiate resuming the dialogue between Tibetan representatives and the Chinese government.”
Many assume this visit is linked to the 70th anniversary of the controversial 17 Point Agreement which the Tibetans were forced to sign under duress with the Chinese government in 1951. His last visit to Lhasa was in 2011 to mark the 60th anniversary of the agreement when Xi was the Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Xi has also visited Tibet as the Party Secretary of Fujian Province in 1998.
In Lhasa, Xi reportedly told the public in front of the Potala palace that “As long as we follow the Communist Party, as long as we adhere to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we will surely be able to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He also said that “all ethnic groups all over Tibet were marching towards a happy life in the future. We are as full of confidence as you.” In Nyingtri, he visited the Mainling airport in Nyingtri, and inspected the Yarlung Tsangpo and the Nyingtri railway station.