SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China must build an “impregnable fortress” to maintain stability in Tibet, protect national unity and educate the masses in the struggle against “splittism”, President Xi Jinping told senior leaders, state media said on Saturday.
China seized control over Tibet in 1950 in what it describes as a “peaceful liberation” that helped the remote Himalayan region throw off its “feudalist” past. But critics, led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.
At a senior Communist Party meeting on Tibet’s future governance, Xi lauded achievements made and praised frontline officials but said more efforts were needed to enrich, rejuvenate and strengthen unity in the region.
Political and ideological education needed to be strengthened in Tibet’s schools in order to “plant the seeds of loving China in the depths of the hearts of every youth”, Xi said in remarks published by state news agency Xinhua.
Pledging to build a “united, prosperous, civilised, harmonious and beautiful new, modern, socialist Tibet”, Xi said China needed to strengthen the role of the Communist Party in the territory and better integrate its ethnic groups.
Tibetan Buddhism also needed to adapt to socialism and to Chinese conditions, he added.
Advocacy group the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said Xi’s remarks showed Chinese rule still needed to be imposed with an “iron fist”.
In emailed comments, its president, Matteo Mecacci, said, “If Tibetans really benefited as much from Chinese leadership as Xi and other officials claim, then China wouldn’t have to fear separatism and wouldn’t need to subject Tibetans to political re-education.”
China’s policies towards Tibet have come under the spotlight again this year amid worsening ties with the United States.
In July, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials involved in blocking diplomatic access to Tibet and engaging in “human rights abuses”, adding that Washington supported “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet.
(Reporting by David Stanway; additional writing by Tom Daly in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard and Clarence Fernandez)