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World Chinese president makes first visit to Tibet

15:11  23 july  2021
15:11  23 july  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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President Xi Jinping has visited the politically troubled region of Tibet, the first official visit by a Chinese leader in 30 years.

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The president was in Tibet from 21-22 July, but his visit is only being reported by state media today due to the sensitivities of the trip.

China is accused of suppressing cultural and religious freedom in the remote and mainly Buddhist region.

Beijing denies the accusations.

In footage released by state broadcaster CCTV, Mr Xi was seen greeting a crowd wearing ethnic costumes and waving the Chinese flag as he left his plane.

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He arrived in Nyingchi, in the south-east of the country, and visited a number of locations to learn about urban development.

He then travelled to the capital Lhasa on the high altitude railway.

While in Lhasa, he visited the Potala Palace, the traditional home of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

People in the city had "reported unusual activities and monitoring of their movement" ahead of his visit, advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet said on Thursday.

Mr Xi last visited the region 10 years ago as vice-president. The last sitting Chinese leader to officially visit Tibet was Jiang Zemin in 1990.

State media said Mr Xi took time to learn about the work being done on ethnic and religious affairs and the work done to protect Tibetan culture.

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Many exiled Tibetans accuse Beijing of religious repression and eroding their culture.

Tibet has had a tumultuous history, during which it has spent some periods functioning as an independent entity and others ruled by powerful Chinese and Mongolian dynasties.

China sent in thousands of troops to enforce its claim on the region in 1950. Some areas became the Tibetan Autonomous Region and others were incorporated into neighbouring Chinese provinces.

China says Tibet has developed considerably under its rule.

But campaign groups say China continues to violate human rights, accusing it of political and religious repression - something Beijing denies.

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