Chinese President Xi Jinping made an unannounced visit Thursday to Tibet, a region officially affiliated with China and the government plans to expand its control. State media reported this on Friday evening. This was Xi’s first visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region in this position, where he was ten years ago as vice president. The president congratulated Tibet on its “seventieth anniversary.” China annexed Tibet in 1951 after the army overran the region. China refers to it as the “peaceful liberation of Tibet”.
These types of presidential visits are uncommon. The last time a Chinese president visited the region was in 1990. The Chinese authorities have expanded control over Buddhist monasteries and education in the Tibetan region. Public opponents of this policy were sentenced to long prison terms. According to China, the elected and exiled Tibetan government is trying to declare the region’s independence. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, is accused of this.
State media reported that Xi visited several major sites in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, during his visit. According to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, Xi visited the area to learn more about the ancient city and “protect Tibetan culture.”
Read also: The real truth of Tibet
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