By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, July 24: The Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare, surprise visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), primarily to inaugurate Nyingtri- Lhasa railway line near the border with Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday. Xi’s last visit to the occupied region was as the Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2011 and first as the Party Secretary of Fujian Province in 1998.
CTA’s spokesperson Tenzin Lekshey from Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) said that the ‘secret’ visit to Lhasa and Nyingtri showed that Tibet is still very important to the CCP. “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,” he further noted.
The Chinese President was accompanied by Party Secretary of TAR, Wu Yingjie, and Chairman of TAR, Che Dalha among other officials. The state-run CGTN showed the President’s grand welcome where he is seen speaking to the public in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Xi reportedly told the Tibetans in attendance, “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. . . All ethnic groups all over Tibet were marching towards a happy life in the future. We are as full of confidence as you.”
According to reports, the visit may have been linked to the controversial 70th anniversary of 17 Point Agreement, which China marks as the start of ‘peaceful liberation’, but the Tibetan officials have said that the agreement was signed under duress. The US-based International Campaign for Tibet through sources first noted unusual activities around public movement in the past several days, indicating the visit of an important leader.
“The way in which the visit was organized and the complete absence of any immediate state media coverage of the visit indicate that Tibet continues to be a sensitive issue and that the Chinese authorities do not have confidence in their legitimacy among the Tibetan people,” the ICT statement remarked.