Chinese President’s Extraordinary Visit to Tibet

Chinese President Xi visited Tibet. On his visits to infrastructure projects, a Buddhist monastery and the former palace of the Dalai Lama, he was enthusiastically greeted by crowds and revered monks.

It is exceptional for a Chinese head of state to visit Tibet: the last time was thirty years ago. Xi himself last visited the region in 2011, when he was still vice president.

The visit was not announced in advance and no specific reason was given. This somewhat coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of the country, what Beijing still calls the liberation of the region.

Hype

Although Beijing has been pushing for more Chinese language education and greater control over religious life in recent years, Xi appeared to want to stress the space allowed to Tibet during the visit. The Xinhua News Agency said he wanted to be informed of matters of faith and protection of Tibetan heritage and culture.

In addition, the Chinese president used the trip to indicate the progress that has been made since then. For example, he visited a newly constructed train track through the mountains and in Chinese propaganda a Tibetan talked about how the area around Potala Palace was significantly renovated.

Earlier this year, Sjoerd reporter den Daas went on a propaganda trip through Tibet:

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