Beijing: Tibet has been an "inalienable part" of China since ancient times, Premier Li Keqiang has asserted as he hoped that religious groups in the sensitive region will continue to safeguard national unity and promote social harmony, the state media reported on Sunday.
Disclosing details of Li's previously unannounced visit to the remote Himalayan region, Xinhua news agency reported that during his visit from July 25 to July 27 to Nyingchi, Shannan, and Lhasa, Li talked with officials and residents and visited the famed Jokhang Temple and the upcoming Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet railway.
Li hoped that Tibet can stick to strategies and policies of the ruling Communist Party of China to achieve development and prosperity, safeguard national unity, enhance solidarity among ethnic groups, promote social and economic development, and maintain lasting peace and stability in Tibet.
While visiting Jokhang Temple, a renowned temple for Tibetan Buddhism in Lhasa, Li said Tibet has been an "inalienable part of China ever since ancient times and he hoped that religious circles will continue to make contributions in safeguarding national unity and promoting ethnic solidarity as well as social harmony," apparently referring to the pro-Dalai Lama sentiments in the sensitive region.
China views the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing's rule in the remote Himalayan region, as a separatist.
Development is key to increasing people's wealth and achieving prosperity in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, the premier said, adding that people's livelihood should be improved through sustainable development, which should be based on actual conditions of Tibet.
He said that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the "water tower" of China and Asia, where ecological conservation should be strengthened to support sustainable development in the whole country.
At the construction site of the Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet railway, Li stressed the importance of the project to the development of Tibet and to ecological protection.
The railway project is beneficial for Tibet to cultivate new growth drivers, and it is the right thing that must be done. Full construction work should be accelerated, Li said.
China has been building rail, road and air links in the remote Tibet, spending billions of dollars.
A railway line linking the Chinese capital Beijing with Lhasa was put into operation in 2006. In 2014, another railway line linking Lhasa with Xigaze was opened.
China and Nepal last month agreed to build a strategic railway link connecting Tibet with Kathmandu, which Nepalese government sees as an alternative trade route for supply of commodities to the landlocked Himalayan nation.
At present, infrastructure development in the country's central and western regions is relatively weak, and promoting effective investments to improve weak links will not only narrow the gap in regional development but also helpful for the country to cope with economic downturn, he said.
China should avoid strong stimulus and take targeted measures that are beneficial in both short and long terms, Li said.
He said that the government will step up support to hospitals in Tibet and colleges for traditional Tibetan medicine to meet the needs of local residents.
The premier said entrepreneurship and innovation in Tibet are very important to high-quality growth.
The country will create better environment to support the education of skilled workers and train more talented workers that are in high demand, he said.
Li said that the government will step up support for the research on precious documents and push cultural inheritance and exchanges.