Xi Jinping made his first visit to Tibet this week as president of China, state news agency Xinhua reports. The first visit by a Chinese government leader since 1990 was dedicated to the now 70-year rule of the communist party in Tibet.
The two-day visit, which began Wednesday, has only now been announced by state media. Footage shows Xi being greeted by a crowd in traditional dress upon arrival. He visited a railway under construction near the border with China and a monastery and palace in the capital Lhasa.
Xi’s penultimate trip to Tibet was in 2011, while he was still vice president. His latest visit comes at a time when tensions with India are easing. Clashes at the disputed borders last year cost the lives of soldiers on both sides. China and India have been in disagreement for years about the exact border between the two countries. Tibet is of great importance to Beijing in this conflict.
Xi said during his visit that China would expand border constructions. He also called on ethnic Tibetans and other minority groups to settle there and protect the country, Xinhua said.
Chinese rule in Tibet is sensitive. The area was alternately independent and controlled by China for centuries until Beijing sent troops there in the 1950s to “peacefully liberate” the inhabitants. Tibetans in exile accuse Beijing of religious oppression and subversion of their culture.