Xi Jinping is my spiritual leader: Chinas education drive in Tibet

China is broadening a political education campaign as it celebrates the 70th anniversary of its control over Tibet

Xi Jinping is my spiritual leader: Chinas education drive in Tibet Photo

Under clear blue skies, rugged peaks and the spectacular Potala Palace, one image is ubiquitous in Tibets capital city Lhasa: portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and fellow leaders.

In a rare and tightly chaperoned government tour of the region last week, a Reuters journalist saw the portraits in classrooms, streets, religious institutions, houses, and the bedroom of a Buddhist monk.

Chinese officials say the campaign is key to the future of Tibet, a region which makes up over 12% of Chinas land mass but is home to just 3.5 million people, mostly ethnic Tibetans.

"Im not drunk ... I speak freely to you," said the monk named Lhakpa, speaking from a courtyard overlooked by security cameras and government observers.

The portraits of Xi were visible at almost all sites visited by Reuters during the trip to Tibet, where journalists are banned from entering outside of such tours. It was not clear when the posters and flags were put up.

"The posters coincide with a massive political education programme which is called feeling gratitude to the party education," said Robert Barnett, a Tibetan studies veteran scholar at the University of Londons School of Oriental and African Studies.

Chinas foreign ministry said: "Tibets economy and society has made great achievements under the care of Chinas central government and the strong support of every Chinese person.

During the visit, government officials suggested that such images, along with small Chinese flags that lined many city streets, were a sign of the "patriotic feeling" in Tibet.

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