Chinese President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of long-term stability and prosperity in Tibet during a meeting with top military officials in Lhasa, the state media reported on Saturday, a day after he made a previously unannounced visit to the strategically important region, including to Nyingchi, a town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
Xi, also General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, met top officials of the Tibet Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army, guarding China’s border with India in Arunachal Pradesh, and also called for “fully strengthening the work of training soldiers and war preparation,” the Global Times reported.
Xi, 68, made his first visit to Tibet as President from Wednesday to Friday. But his important visit was kept under wraps by China’s official media till the end of the tour on Friday due to the sensitivities of the trip.
As part of his trip, he first went to Nyingchi, a strategically located town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
On Thursday, Xi went to Nyingchi Railway Station, learning about the overall design of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway and how the Lhasa-Nyingchi section has been operated since June 25.
It was the first time in recent years, a top Chinese leader visited the Tibetan border town. From there he went to the provincial capital Lhasa by the recently launched high-speed train.
He wound up his visit to the politically sensitive Himalayan region on Friday by meeting “representatives of troops stationed in Tibet”.
“Xi met with representatives of troops stationed in Tibet, calling for efforts to strengthen military training and preparedness in all aspects and make contributions to the lasting stability, prosperity and development of Tibet,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
However, the CPC-run tabloid Global Times said that Xi in his meeting with the PLA representatives “stressed that the local troops should fully strengthen the work of training soldiers and war preparation and contribute positive strength to promote the long-term stability and prosperity of Tibet”.
Xi’s first visit to Tibet took place amidst the current India-China military tensions in eastern Ladakh.
According to Xinhua, Xi visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in connection with the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s “peaceful liberation the first time in the history of the Party and the country.”
He extended congratulations to the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, visited officials and ordinary people of various ethnic groups and conveyed the CPC Central Committee’s care to them, the report said.
He said that at present, Tibet is at a new historical starting point of its development, and the CPC’s leadership must be upheld and the path of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” must be followed.
Xi said over the past 70 years Tibet has made historic strides in the social system and realised full economic and social development, with people’s living standards significantly improved.
“It has been proven that without the CPC, there would have been neither new China nor new Tibet,” Xi said.”The CPC Central Committee’s guidelines and policies concerning Tibet work are completely correct.”
China is accused of suppressing cultural and religious freedom in the remote and mainly Buddhist Himalayan region. China has rejected the accusations.
In his meetings in Tibet, Xi stressed fully implementing the CPC’s “fundamental guidelines governing religious work, respecting the religious beliefs of the people, adhering to the principle of independence and self-governance in religious affairs.
He also stressed governing religious affairs in accordance with the law and guiding Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to a socialist society, the Xinhua report said.
Since becoming President in 2013, Xi has pursued a firm policy of stepping up security control of Tibet. Beijing has been cracking down on Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama, who despite his exile remained widely admired spiritual leader and worshipped by Tibetans.
Xi also pushed the Tibetan government and the military to strengthen border security by improving the infrastructure of the border villages including building new dwellings for residents.
Xi’s policies on Tibet include the “sinicization” of Tibetan Buddhism, bringing it in tune with the policies of the ruling Communist Party.