New Delhi, September 6 - China has launched a charm offensive to showcase a modern, new-look Tibet with "happy and contented people" on the 40th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
"Infrastructure is well-developed. I was impressed by a clean modern city with all cultures flourishing in the city," Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi, who returned from a visit to Tibet, told reporters here Tuesday.
The anniversary celebrations kicked off Monday with a massive parade in the regional capital Lhasa, attended by thousands of women and men in colourful local costumes dancing and singing at the foot of the Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lama, the region's exiled god-king.
"Last year, tourist flows to Tibet reached 1.22 million people. What impressed me most about Lhasa was the protection of traditional religious and cultural activities. People are enjoying their life," he added.
The Chinese envoy waxed eloquent on the opening of the first railway networkin Tibet next year.
"A majority of Tibetans are looking forward to the railways that is likely to be operational by July next year. The trial run of the first railway in Tibet will take place on July 4 next year," Sun said. "It will improve communication of Tibetans with the rest of China and the world," he added.
China occupied Tibet in 1950 and re-designated the vast, sparsely populated region known as "the roof of the world" as the Tibetan Autonomous Region 15 years later.
He said that the top leadership in his country was carrying on negotiations with the Dalai Lama, but stressed it was essential that he give up the demand for independence for any breakthrough to happen.
"If he really wants to play a role in Tibet, he should first abandon his design for independence," Sun said.
"We already have an autonomous region and it's functioning successfully. It depends on his attitude whether he will regard Tibet and Taiwan as integral part of China in line with the policy of the central government," the Chinese envoy emphasised.
During the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, India recognised Tibet as part of Chinese territory and declared not to allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities on its soil.
China, on its part, put an end to the 30-year-old controversy when it handed over an official map, which clearly indicated Sikkim as an integral part of India.