Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare visit to the politically-sensitive region of Tibet, Chinese state media reported on Friday.

This was the first official visit by a Chinese President to the troubled region in 30 years. The last Chinese President to visit Tibet was Jiang Zemin in 1990.

The president was in Tibet from Wednesday to Friday, but the visit was reported only on Friday due to the sensitivities of the trip, reports BBC.

The politically-charged region of Tibet has alternated between independence and Chinese control over centuries.

China says that it “peacefully liberated” the rugged plateau in 1951 and brought infrastructure and education to the previously underdeveloped region.

But exiled Tibetans accuse the Chinese government of suppressing cultural and religious freedom in the mainly Buddhist region.

In the footage released by state broadcaster CCTV on Friday, Xi was seen granting a crowd wearing ethnic costumes and waving Chinese flags as he set foot on the country in a red carpet welcome as dancers performed around him.

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The BBC reported that Xi arrived in Nyngchi, in the southeast of the region and surveyed the area’s urban development prospects before travelling to capital Lhasa on the high-altitude railway.

Xi Jinping called upon the local Communist Party cadre to “consolidate the foundation” of patriotic and “anti-separatist” education and said they must “increase all ethnic groups’ identification with the motherland, the broadcaster reported.

Chinese state TV said that the president met locals in front of Potala Palace in Lhasa, the former home of the exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

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People in the city had “reported unusual activities and monitoring of their movement” ahead of this visit, advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet said on Thursday.

Xi last visited the region 10 years ago as vice-president. State media said Xi took time to learn about the work being done on ethnic and religious affairs and the work done to protect Tibetan culture.