China to uphold Communist Party leadership in Tibet

China will uphold the leadership of the Communist Party in Tibet to further its economic development, and guide Tibetan society in accordance with socialism, the region's top official said on Saturday.

Speaking at a news conference in Beijing, Tibet's Party Secretary Wu Yingjie said, "First and foremost we must uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China."

Sunday (May 23) marks 70 years since the signing of the peace accord between the Tibetan Army and China's People's Liberation Army in 1951, leading to Chinese rule over the Tibet Autonomous Region.

In 1959, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India with tens of thousands of followers after an abortive uprising in Lhasa. He then established a government-in-exile in India.

International support for the Tibetan community has surged in the past year with renewed support from rights groups and international governments, led by the United States.

In December, Congress passed the Tibet Policy and Support Act, which calls for the right of the Tibetans to select the next Dalai Lama, as well as for the establishment of a consulate in the Tibetan city of Lhasa.

China, which is officially atheist, has strongly condemned the act, saying it is an effort to meddle in the country's internal affairs.

The Dalai Lama and the exiled government, also known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), have proposed what they call a "middle way" approach that would allow the exiled 150,000 Tibetans to return to China on the condition of "genuine autonomy" for Tibet, though not full independence.

China has rebuffed attempts by the CTA to reopen a dialog since 2010, and Beijing maintains that the Dalai Lama is a separatist.

Penpa Tsering, who was this month elected president of CTA, told Reuters on Friday that they are committed to a peaceful resolution with China, but Beijing's current policies threaten the future of Tibetan culture.

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