Chinese President Xi Jinping recently visited Tibet. State news agency reports.
Why did Xi Jinping go to Tibet? The Chinese President’s visit to Tibet is exceptional. This is the first time in 31 years that a Chinese head of state has entered the autonomous region. One reason may be the 70th anniversary of the so-called liberation of Tibet. From Beijing’s point of view, it’s the anniversary. In addition, Xi must also attend his visit. In recent months, the border conflict between China and India has flared up again in the region. And so it’s possible that you’ll want to make this rare visit to show how important the area is to Xi Jinping as well.
Was this visit announced? No, the trip was somewhat abrupt. On Thursday, videos went viral on social media. Many commenters were initially unsure whether the recordings were outdated. Only after a certain time, the state and party media of China officially confirmed this. However, I only really reported it when the visit was over. Xi Jinping has been there for about ten years. But he wasn’t head of state at the time, he became that in 2013.
How was Xi Jinping received in Tibet? He was greeted heavily in official photos – with traditional dances as soon as he got off the plane. The people on the roadside cheered him. Such shots are planned in advance so that they look suitably cheerful. There is no place for critical voices or references on such a visit. This is also the case elsewhere: when the President of China comes, there is rejoicing.
How is China’s relationship with Tibet developing? According to human rights organizations and Tibetans in exile, repression has intensified, including in Tibet itself. This ranges from the Chinese language, which is becoming increasingly dominant in school lessons, to the indoctrination of monks and nuns, to communist education and the party standing above all. A trend toward China can also be seen under Xi Jinping, not only among Tibetans, but also among other ethnic or religious minorities such as the Uyghurs. They are increasingly under party control.
Deviant attitudes or other interpretations are less tolerated. There are also many reports of people being persecuted there, Tibetans ending up in prison, and in some cases for the smallest crimes such as contacting people abroad, with Tibetans outside of China. However, verifying these reports is very difficult. Because correspondents from abroad are not allowed to travel to this area alone.
Will this visit change anything in the political climate? It cannot be assumed that the repression will decrease due to Xi Jinping’s visit to the region, on the contrary. He has already made it clear that ethnic cohesion is important to him. The dominant ethnic group is the Chinese – the Han Chinese, not the Tibetans.
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