New Delhi: Xi Jinping, who once said that “to govern a country, it’s necessary to govern the border, and to govern the border, it’s required to stabilise Tibet first”, visited this week the strategic Tibet Autonomous Region bordering India for the first time as China’s president.
In Tibet capital Lhasa on Thursday, Xi visited the Drepung Monastery, Barkhor Street and the Potala Palace square to “learn about the work on ethnic and religious affairs, the conservation of the ancient city, as well as the inheritance and protection of Tibetan culture”, official Xinhua news agency said.
A day before, Xi visited the city of Nyingchi. He visited the Nyang River Bridge to inspect the ecological preservation in the basin of the Yarlung Zangbo River and its tributary Nyang River, Xinhua said.
Chinese troops took over Tibet in 1950 in what Beijing calls a “peaceful liberation”, and the Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 to India following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the what Beijing calls the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
Xi’s visit comes about two weeks after the Dalai Lama turned 86.
In a phone call, Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally wished Tibet’s spiritual leader a happy birthday.
Beijing sees the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” and is against any engagement with him.
Xi’s visit, notably, took place ahead of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s travel to China from Sunday to hold talks with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and others.
Last December, the US Congress passed a bill that looked to upgrade US support for Tibetans in key areas, including sanctioning Chinese officials if they try to appoint the next Dalai Lama.
In Nyingchi, Xinhua said, Xi inspected the city development planning, rural vitalization and city park building.
Xi went to Nyingchi railway station, learning about the overall designing of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway and the operation of Lhasa-Nyingchi railway section, and then took a train to Lhasa.
He inspected the construction along the railway during the ride, Xinhua said
The Lhasa-Nyingchi railway is Tibet’s first electrified railway which was put into operation last month.