August 9, 2018

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on visit to TAR tells Buddhist leaders to defend ethnic unity

July 27, 2018

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made his first publicly reported visit to Tibet on July 25 -27, 2018. During his tour Li Keqiang visited the capital Lhasa and the southern prefectures of Nyingtri and Lhokha, pledging to boost infrastructure investment to improve the economy and calling for ethnic unity between Tibetans and the country’s Han majority. He was accompanied throughout the tour by TAR Party Secretary Wu Yingjie and Choedak (Qi Zala), Chairman of TAR People’s Government.
Premier Li Keqiang visited the Tibet Autonomous Region on July 25. Reaching Nyingtri first, he headed straight to Shenkar Monba Village, Qiangna Township, Milin County. This is an immigrant village where villagers are relocated from “poor areas”. Li Keqiang went to a family in the village and asked them their main source of income, etc. The family answered that they rely on farming, land transfer and tourism. The annual income of the family is 150,000 yuan, and both medical care and education are reportedly guaranteed by the government. He learned that there are 72 households in the village, and 90% of them have reached the income level of this family.
On the evening of July 25, Li Keqiang who was on inspection in Nyingtri, Tibet came to the intersection of the Yarlung Tsangbo River and the Niyang River to investigate water resources and ecological protection. The Yarlung Tsangbo River is one of the world’s highest rivers and has the longest river plateau in “China’s Tibet”. The Niyang River is a large tributary of the Yarlung Tsangbo River and is regarded as the ‘mother river’ of Nyingchi. The Premier said that Tibet is the “water tower” of China and Asia and asked the people to build Tibet and protect Tibet’s water resources. He described it as necessary to build ecologically fragile plateau protection into a highland of ecological civilization.
On July 26, the Premier went to a site in Lhokha where he inspected the construction site
of the Lhasa-Nyingtri section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway. The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a key project of the National 13th Five-Year Plan, with a total investment of 270 billion yuan. Li Keqiang said “the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is not only the hope of the Tibetan people, but also the wish of the people of the whole country. Its investment and construction will drive huge economic and social benefits. It is an effective investment project that we have already identified and will build sooner or later. China’s current development is unbalanced, and infrastructure construction in the central and western regions lags behind. It is necessary to speed up the filling of this shortage, accelerate the construction of infrastructure in the central and western regions by expanding effective investment, and gradually narrow the development gap in the eastern, central and western regions.”
In Lhasa on July 26, Li Keqiang met Buddhist leaders at Jokhang Temple and urged them to defend national ethnic unity. He Keqiang visited the life-sized gilt bronze statue of the 12-year-old Shakyamuni brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), who was given in marriage to Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. He stopped at the Tang-Tubo (Tibet) Alliance Monument, which is 1200 years old and stands outside the Jokhang Temple. At the site, Premier Li Keqiang hoped the ‘great national unity will develop for numerous years to come, just like the monument, impervious to the changes over time’.
Premier Li Keqiang also met veteran Tibetan leaders and comrades in Lhasa on July 26 afternoon including Phagpa Lha Gelek Namgyal, Ragdi, Jampa Phuntsok, Lekgchock, and Pasang. Li Keqiang said: “You have made important contributions to Tibet’s development, construction, harmony and stability. On behalf of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, I would like to extend my heartfelt blessings to you. I wish you a happy and healthy life, and wish Tibet long-term development and long-term stability.”[PDF]

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