Chinese President Xi Jinping makes maiden visit to Tibetan town bordering Arunachal Pradesh
Xi arrived at the Nyingchi Mainling Airport on Wednesday and was greeted by local people and officials of various ethnic groups, Xinhua news agency reported. He is perhaps the first Chinese leader to visit the town at the India-China border. Xi's politically significant visit was kept under wraps by China's official media till Friday. During his visit to Nyingchi, Xi, 68, visited the Nyang River Bridge to inspect the ecological preservation in the basin of the Brahmaputra river, which is called Yarlung Zangbo in the Tibetan language.
Xi's visit to Tibet took place amidst the current India-China military tensions in eastern Ladakh.
The two sides are now engaged in talks to extend the disengagement process to the remaining friction points.
Chinese leaders periodically visit Tibet. But Xi, who also heads the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the powerful Central Military Commission -- the overall high command of the Chinese military -- is perhaps the first top leader in recent years to visit Tibet's border town.
"[As for] the future, the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet will march towards a happy life, I am as confident as you are," the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper quoted Xi as saying.
This is Xi's first visit to Tibet after he took over as president in 2013.
He visited the Himalayan region as Vice President in 2011 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of "the peaceful liberation of Tibet''.
Nyingchi was in news in June when China fully operationalized its first bullet train in Tibet, which besides improving the connectivity in the remote Himalayan region also bolsters the Chinese military's ability to move troops and weaponry to the Indian borders at a much faster pace.
The train connects Tibet's provincial capital Lhasa with Nyingchi. It has a designed speed of 160 km per hour and operates on a single-line electrified railway covering 435.5-km.
The Lhasa-Nyingchi railway is Tibet's first electrified railway.
After visiting a city planning hall, a village, and a park in Nyingchi, Xi went to Nyingchi railway station and took the train to Lhasa. He inspected the construction along the railway during the ride, the Xinhua report said.
He visited Drepung Monastery, Barkhor Street, and the Potala Palace Square in Lhasa to learn about the work on ethnic and religious affairs, the conservation of the ancient city, as well as the inheritance and protection of the Tibetan culture and chatted with residents there, it said.
An official white paper on Tibet released by China in May this year, however, claimed that Tibet has been an integral part of it from ancient times and blamed the British imperialists for cultivating the "Tibet Independence'' concept.
Beijing accuses him of being a ''splittist'' attempting to separate Tibet from China. President Xi pursued a firm policy firming up security control of Tibet. Beijing has been cracking down on Buddhist monks and followers of the Dalai Lama who despite his exile remained widely admired spiritual leader and worshipped by Tibetans.
Xi also pushed the Tibetan government and the military to strengthen border security by improving the infrastructure of the border villages including building new dwellings for residents.
One monk at Lhasa's historic Jokhang temple named Xi as his spiritual leader.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)