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19july2011lhasa1Dharamshala: - Xi Jinping, the Vice President of China, attended public events in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Tuesady (19th July) to mark the so called 60th Anniversary of the signing of the 1951 17-Point Agreement, what China refers to as the "peaceful liberation of Tibet."

According to a statement by the International Tibet Network, Xi has opened a new highway, visited Tibet University, and gone to a special exhibition to meet with senior Tibetan leaders leading up to the events on Tuesday.

It is ironic, according to Tenzin Jigme of the International Tibet Network, that while Xi Jinping is celebrating in Lhasa, "Tibetans from Kham and Amdo, eastern Tibet are being brutally repressed-a part of life in occupied Tibet that China is not showcasing in its propaganda events."

Xi Jinping, China's heir apparent to the presidency, indicated in a speech Tuesday that he will continue with Beijing's current hardline stance on Tibet.

Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile have said that they simply want peace and autonomy in their region, Xi views the His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his followers as violent separatists, and says that China should "completely smash any plot to destroy stability in Tibet and jeopardize national unity."

Xi claimed that China has an ancient claim on Tibet and that Tibetans are "part of the big family of China."

According to Voice of America, Xi also indicated two other reasons Tibet may be so valuable to the Chinese. He called Tibet a "national security screen" for China, meaning that the region is a barrier between China and potential rival India. He said that the Tibetan plateau is a major source of resources for China.

Tibet rights groups have been scrutinizing Xi's behavior to determine if Tibet policy will change at all under his leadership.

Tuesday was the first time Xi had spoken at legnth about Tibetan issues. Some Tibetans and Tibet activists have hope because Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun, knew the 10th Panchen Lama well and also knew His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"So the big question for us is," said Reynolds, "will Ji Jinping turn out to be his father's son? Will he show that he has any empathy for the Tibetan people at all?"

The International Tibet Network calls on Xi to "genuinely engage with the exiled Tibetan government and allow the people of Tibet the freedom to determine their own future."

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