Xi visits Tibet as floods affect millions in Henan
Xi’s visit marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Chinese troops sent to occupy Tibet. The president wants to promote local stability, development and environmental protection. Tibetan government in exile slams Beijing for destroying Tibet’s identity, calls for renewed dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Deaths caused by floods in central China spark protests.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tibet on Wednesday and Thursday to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Chinese troops in the future autonomous region, home to indigenous Buddhists.
Xi's visit to Tibet is his first as president, and the first in 10 years. He came in 2011 when he was vice president pledging to fight the "separatist activities" led by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, in exile since 1959.
The latter, also known as Tenzin Gyatso, fled to India after the Chinese military crushed the Tibetan uprising of that year.
In August 2020, Xi declared that the defence of the Tibetan border was a national priority.
Two months earlier, Chinese and Indian troops had clashed along the provisional border that divides India’s Ladakh territory from Tibet; scores of soldiers were killed. This was the first border incident between the two countries since 1975.
According to sources cited by the South China Morning Post, in his Tibetan trip, Xi focused on internal issues, namely local stability, development and environmental protection.
Xi told Tibetans that he is confident that all local ethnic groups “will march towards a happy life”.
The new leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile disagrees. In an interview published today by Nikkei Asia, Penpa Tsering accused the Chinese government of destroying Tibet’s identity by sending ethnic Han Chinese settlers to Tibet. Han are China’s largest ethnic group.
Tsering slammed the suppression of religious freedom in Tibet, with the Chinese authorities keeping Buddhist monasteries under control thanks to the massive use of video surveillance systems.
The Tibetan leader called on the United States, the European Union and other democracies to join together to help the Tibetan cause.
He also asked the Chinese government to resume talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile, which were interrupted in 2010, and to open direct negotiations with the Dalai Lama.
Before arriving in Tibet, Xi stopped in nearby Sichuan, where he visited the San Xing Dui archaeological site.
However, the president stayed away from Henan, which was devastated by floods and torrential rains. The current death toll stands at 51, with most dead in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou.
About three million people were affected by the disaster, many trapped without food and clean water. According to China Central Television (CCTV), the economic damage has been estimated around 1.2 billion yuan (US$ 185 million)
While Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated, rescuers continue to move people out of many villages.
The disaster has angered many residents who are demanding the authorities why the Zhengzhou underground network was not shut down when the rainfall became heavy. At least 12 people drowned in a flooded line.
Meanwhile, the weather situation could get worse over the weekend, when Typhoon In-fa is expected to land on China’s east coast.