On July 21-22, 2021, two years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping made an unannounced visit to Tibet. Video clips shared on Chinese social media showed Xi addressing people in the city of Nyingtri stepping out of a shop in the Barkhor area in Lhasa and giving remarks to the public while facing the “Monument to the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” in front of the Potala Palace, the traditional winter residence of the Dalai Lama. Commemorating Xi's visit, Chinese news media is replete with reports praising how "Xi’s footsteps in Xizang region illustrate beautiful new chapter for snowy plateau".
During his first visit to Lhasa, President Xi Jinping's arrival was met with significant security measures, indicating the sensitive nature of the region. His visit was shrouded in secrecy, and the authorities tightly controlled access to information and media coverage. State television network CCTV showed a Tibetan woman wiping away tears as she joined a crowd of people dressed in traditional costumes clapping enthusiastically to welcome Xi.
The official reason for the three-day trip was reportedly to highlight the 70th anniversary of what Beijing calls the "peaceful liberation of Tibet". This was an attempt to hide the horrendous reality of the unlawful Chinese invasion of Tibet, which, contrary to Chinese claims, was never a part of China. Currently, Tibet is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, which denies the basic human rights and the protesting Tibetans who try to practice their religion and culture are attacked. After the invasion of Tibet by China in 1949, the Chinese government forcefully made the representative of Tibet sign the seventeen point agreement in 1951 at Lhasa which gave China sovereignty over Tibet.
Over the last two years, Tibet has witnessed an alarming deterioration in its already fragile human rights situation. Chinese authorities have further tightened their grip on the region, imposing stringent surveillance and restrictions on religious and cultural practices. This has led to increased repression of Tibetans and erosion of their traditional way of life.
One of the most concerning aspects of China's actions is the orchestration of fake visits by the Panchen Lama, one of the most important spiritual leaders in Tibetan Buddhism. The Chinese government installed its own Panchen Lama after abducting the legitimate one recognized by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan religious community. The fake Panchen Lama has been used as a puppet by the Chinese authorities to legitimize their control over Tibetan Buddhism and to undermine the spiritual authority of the true Panchen Lama.
Furthermore, the Chinese government denies access to Tibet for independent media and international observers, making it difficult to get accurate and unbiased information about the situation on the ground. This lack of transparency raises concerns about human rights violations and further exacerbates the already tense situation in the region.
Edited and collated by Team TRC