According to the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), the President of China Xi Jinping made an unannounced visit to Tibet.
Video clips which were shared on the Chinese social media on July 22, 2021, have shown the President addressing the people in Nyingtri and coming out of a shop in the Barkhor area in Lhasa.
The President was also seen giving remarks to the public while facing the ‘Monument to the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet’ in front of the Potala Palace. A traditional winter residence of the Dalai Lama.
Reportedly, the visit to the Tibetan city may have been linked to the 70th anniversary of a controversial 17 Point Agreement. A document which as falsely claimed by China marks its ‘peaceful liberation of Tibet’, however, Dalai Lama has renounced it as an agreement which was made under duress.
No report by Chinese State Media:
While heavy security is expected for a visit by the Chinese President anywhere, it is highly unusual that even Chinese State Media has not reported about his visit to Lhasa and Nyingtri, even though 2 days have already passed since he arrived.
A surprise visit by the Chinese President to Tibet
• A source informed ICT that the President had first landed at Mainling airport in Nyingtri, in Southeast Tibet, on July 20. He also addressed a public gathering in Nyingtri.
• 10 years ago when Xi had visited to mark the 60th anniversary of the 17 Point Agreement, he had gone to Lhasa first. However, this time, he came to meet the people in Nyingtri first and told them that not a single ethnic group must be left behind in the efforts to fully build a modern socialist China.
• President Xi also addressed a gathering in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, where he said that “as long as we follow the Communist Party and long as we stick to the part of socialism with the Chinese characteristics, we will surely realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as planned”.
• Xi Jinping, during his trip to Tibet, may also visit one of the monasteries in Lhasa, possibly the Drepung Monastery.
When was the last time the Chinese President made a visit to the autonomous region?
President Xi Jinping had last visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region- which spans about half of Tibet- in 2011 when he was the Vice-President of the country. At the same time, he had visited Nyingtri, Lhasa, and Shigatse.
The President had visited the region as the head of the Chinese Government’s delegation in order to mark the 60th anniversary of the 17 Point Agreement.
Monitoring movements and unusual activities before Xi’s visit to Tibet:
Three separate sources had informed ICT that their acquaintances in Lhasa had reported unusual activities and monitoring of their movement from the past few days, which further indicated the visit of an important leader.
People also reported receiving calls from security officials and checking on their activities for no apparent reason. Roads in several sections of Lhasa were also blocked, and the city authorities had announced the banning of drones or kites in Lhasa from July 21 to August 17, 2021.
Chinese President Jinping’s visit to Tibet: How can it impact India?
The visit by the President of China to Nyingchi has come a month after China had inaugurated its first electric train service in Tibet between capital Lhasa and Nyingchi City, a week before the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) had celebrated its 100th birthday on July 1.
The inauguration of the bullet train near India’s border had already become an issue of concern for India. The train connects Nyingchi which is a prefecture-level city of Medog which is adjacent to the Arunachal Pradesh border in India.
China already claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet, which has always been firmly rejected by the Indian Government.
Even though India’s policy on Tibet has been mindful of Chinese sensibilities, and recognized Tibet as part of China, with the recent stand-off between the two countries, India’s stand on Tibet took a U-turn.
The surprise visit by the Chinese President to Tibet can mean that the border disputes between India and China are going to be more tensed, in case the issue of China-Tibet sees some form of improvement.
India needs to come up with a clear stand on Tibet. If it wants to secure itself from border disputes, India needs to keep Tibet on good terms by supporting its claim to be autonomous.