Beijing, July 29 (IANS) The Chinese Premier visited the autonomous region of Tibet in a three-day tour, although the news was not officially revealed until on Sunday, two days after the trip ended.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Tibet’s capital Lhasa, the Yarlung Zangbo (Brahmaputra) river and the cities of Nyingchi and Shannan between July 25-27, Efe news agency cited a Xinhua report.
Li said he hoped that Tibet could “achieve development and prosperity, safeguard national unity” and “enhance solidarity among ethnic groups”.
In Lhasa, Li visited the famous Potala Palace, traditional residence of the Dalai Lamas, and said that government would protect and promote cultural heritage.
Human rights organisations and Tibetans in exile have frequently accused China of suppressing Tibetan religion and culture.
The Premier also visited the Jokhang monastery in Lhasa, considered one of the holiest shrines in Tibet, which was hit by a fire this year; the extent of damage was unknown due to the lack of information on the incident as authorities maintain strict censorship on news related to Tibet.
Li began his visit in Nyingchi, where he visited communities supported by the government’s poverty alleviation programme, meeting residents and leaders of the area and stressing the need to promote sustainable development and improve Tibetans’ quality of life, the report said.
He inspected efforts for the conservation of water and the local ecosystem in the Yarlung Zangbo river and said ecological conservation should be strengthened further.
Tibet has been closed to the foreign press since 2008, when dozens of Tibetans died after setting themselves on fire in protests against Beijing.
Tibetan monasteries in western China, even outside the government-declared autonomous region, have been flashpoints of protests against Beijing’s policies, with more than 100 monks and sympathizers immolating themselves in the last decade.