China celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region with an official ceremony held on the roof of the world in the capital city of Lhasa. Floats paraded through the streets celebrating the achievements of the Communist Party while others showed famous Tibet landmarks such as Potala Palace, former residence of the Dalai Lama.
Chinese leaders attended the commemoration while state media launched attacks on the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate calling the Dalai Lama a "cheater" and a "cruel ruler in exile". China has ruled the remote region since Communist troops took control of Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama, who now lives in India, fled the country in 1959 after a failed uprising.
Chinese political adviser Yu Zhengsheng, in charge of religious groups and ethnic minorities and number four in the ruling Communist Party, told listeners during the ceremony: "People of all ethnicities are steadfastly engaged in a struggle against separatism, continuously thwarting the Dalai clique and foreign hostile forces' splittist and sabotage activities."
On 7 September, rights group Free Tibet denounced the celebrations, saying they "may be dressed up in 21st-century PR but they belong in the era of Mao". Tibet remains under heavy security and visits by foreign media are tightly restricted, making an independent assessment of the situation difficult.