President Xi Jinping has visited the politically troubled region of Tibet, the first official visit by a Chinese leader in 30 years.

Xi will be in the autonomous region from Wednesday to Friday, July 21-22, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Chinese president flew into the city of Nyingchi on Wednesday and took a train to Tibetan capital Lhasa the following day along a section of the high-elevation railway being built to link the mountainous border region with Sichuan province.

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In Lhasa, he visited a monastery and the Potala Palace Square, and “inspected ethnic religion” and Tibetan cultural heritage protection.

The palace is the traditional home of Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who is in exile and has been branded a dangerous separatist by Beijing.

Mr Xi had last visited the region 10 years ago as vice-president. The last sitting Chinese leader to officially visit Tibet was Jiang Zemin in 1990.

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State media said Mr Xi took time to learn about the work being done on ethnic and religious affairs and the work done to protect Tibetan culture.

Tibet, on China’s border with India, is seen as having critical strategic importance to Beijing. Last year China and India saw the most serious clash in decades on their disputed border in the Himalayas, with deaths on both sides.

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Tibet has had a tumultuous history and spent some periods functioning as an independent entity and others ruled by powerful Chinese and Mongolian dynasties.

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