President Xi Jinping speaks with local people during his visit to the city of Nyingchi in southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region on July 23. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited the region from July 21 to 23 for the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation. (XIE HUANCHI / XINHUA)
President Xi Jinping has laid out a new vision for ethnic unity, lasting peace and stability and the high-quality development of the Tibet autonomous region, stressing the need to secure new achievements in ecological protection and sustainable growth in the plateau area.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, highlighted the vision during an inspection tour of Tibet from July 21 to 23.
The visit came on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, and was the first time a top Chinese leader has taken part in such a celebration in the history of the Party and the country.
The landmark trip, which took Xi to the cities of Nyingchi and Lhasa, the regional capital, fully demonstrates the strong support of the CPC Central Committee for Tibet as well as its care for the people of the plateau region, observers said.
They added that Xi’s visit will spur the people and officials in the Tibet region to make greater progress in various areas.
“The visit fully demonstrated the strong concern from the CPC Central Committee and Xi for the different ethnic groups of Tibet. It was also a gesture of full reckoning of the phenomenal achievements of the region over the past seven decades,” said Zhang Yun, director of the Institute of History Studies of the China Tibetology Research Center.
During the visit, Xi said that over the past seven decades, Tibet has realized all-around socioeconomic development with people’s livelihoods greatly improved, and both urban and rural areas having taken on a new look.
Practice has proved that the guidelines and policies for work related to Tibet are totally correct, Xi said, urging efforts to fully implement the Party’s strategy for governing Tibet in the new era, which stresses implementing the new development philosophy, serving and integrating into the nation’s new development paradigm, advancing high-quality growth and strengthening border security.
During his visit to Nyingchi on July 21, Xi visited the Nyang River Bridge to inspect ecological conservation in the basin of the Yarlung Zangbo River and its tributary, the Nyang, before making a visit to a local urban planning hall, a village and a park in the city.
At Nyingchi Railway Station the next day, he learned about the overall planning of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway and the operation of its Lhasa-Nyingchi section, before taking a train to Lhasa.
Officially put into operation in June, the Lhasa-Nyingchi section is Tibet’s first electric railway. Xi also inspected construction along the railway during the journey.
Xi has attached great importance to the building of the railway project and made several instructions about its construction work. He said that building the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a significant step to promote Tibet’s development and improve local people’s livelihoods.
Given the complex topography and climate conditions and great difficulties in construction of the section between Ya’an in Sichuan province and Nyingchi, Xi stressed the need to allow technological innovation to play a key role in the process and to stick to scientific, safe and green construction of the landmark railway.
During his trip to Lhasa on July 23,
Xi visited the Drepung Monastery, Barkhor Street and the Potala Palace square to learn about work on ethnic and religious affairs, the conservation of the ancient city, and the inheritance and protection of Tibetan culture.
Xi was warmly welcomed by local residents from various ethnic groups and he chatted with them.
He spoke with monks at the Drepung Monastery, talked to Barkhor Street vendors and held exchanges with tourists and residents at Potala Palace square.
“I feel pleased to have witnessed the beautiful and magnificent splendor of the plateau and its vibrant new look,” Xi said.
He stressed the need to fully implement the Party’s guidelines for religious work in Tibet, respect local people’s religious beliefs, manage religious affairs in accordance with the law, and actively guide Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to socialist society in order to promote religious, social and ethnic harmony and allow religion to play a positive role in advancing social development.
Speaking at a meeting attended by officials of the autonomous region, Xi urged the region’s authorities to uphold the people-centered philosophy and earnestly improve social governance to ensure national security, social stability and people’s happiness.
Efforts should be made to strengthen exchanges and integration among various ethnic groups to improve people’s awareness of the motherland, the Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the Party and socialism with Chinese characteristics, and lay a solid ideological foundation for ethnic unity, he said.
Xi called on Tibet to deepen reform and opening-up, step up building major railway and highway infrastructure facilities, develop specialty industries and coordinate development and security to blaze a high-quality development path suited to local conditions.
He underlined the need to consolidate and expand the results of poverty elimination to enable this to be integrated with rural vitalization endeavors. Efforts should be focused on issues concerning people’s livelihoods, such as employment, education, social security, healthcare, eldercare and housing, in order to further enhance people’s sense of gain, happiness and security, he added.
While highlighting the importance of ecological conservation in the plateau region, Xi urged the local authorities to stay focused on improving environmental governance, strive to protect the biodiversity of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and stick to the ecology-first and green development path to ensure modernization featuring harmony between man and nature.
Xi also met on July 23 with representatives of military officials and soldiers stationed in Tibet, and urged them to make contributions to promoting Tibet’s long-lasting peace, stability and prosperity.
Tibet used to be one of China’s least-developed regions, with the highest level of difficulty in poverty alleviation.
The president spoke twice at high-level symposiums on Tibet-related work, in 2015 and 2020, setting out policy directions for the region’s growth in the new era.
By the end of 2019, all of the region’s 74 impoverished counties had been removed from the list of poverty-stricken areas, with over 620,000 people lifted out of penury.
During the visit, Xi emphasized that people of all ethnic groups had jointly contributed to the development of Tibet.
History has provided many examples of exchanges between Tibetan and other ethnic groups, he said.
The region is at a new starting point of its development, and the Party’s leadership must be upheld and the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics must be followed, Xi said.
In promoting the high-quality development of Tibet, it is important to see growth in various areas from the perspective of ethnic unity and progress and ensure that growth will help improve the sense of gain, happiness and security of people of various ethnic groups, he said.
The president underlined the need to accelerate the construction of railways, roads and other major infrastructure projects, develop industries with local characteristics and quicken the development of a national base for clean energy.
Xi urged authorities to take concrete steps to address issues related to jobs, education, social security, healthcare, eldercare, and housing security.
He reiterated the significance of protecting the region’s ecology and environment, saying it is important to improve environmental governance, protect the biodiversity of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and stick to a development path that ensures harmony between humans and nature.
Dorje Tashi, a lecturer at Tibet Vocational Technical College, said Xi pointed the way for development of the region during the visit, and that the tour will be significant to the ethnic unity, social harmony and economic growth of the region.
Zhang, from the China Tibetology Research Center, said ethnic unity is crucial to social harmony and stability, the long-term peace and order of a nation and the happiness of people.
“The general secretary has underscored a basic historical fact that Tibet has been the area where different ethnic groups of the nation have been living and thriving since ancient times. Tibet’s case has revealed that the different ethnic groups of China are a community with a shared future that shares weal and woe,” he said.
Cao Desheng contributed to this story.
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