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Tibetans related to majority Han: China

China today said Tibetans had been "closely connected" to its majority Han ethnic group "since ancient times", as it marks 60 years since the Himalayan region was "peacefully liberated" by its troops.

world Updated: Jul 11, 2011 20:52 IST

China on Monday said Tibetans had been "closely connected" to its majority Han ethnic group "since ancient times", as it marks 60 years since the Himalayan region was "peacefully liberated" by its troops.

A government white paper released on Monday said Tibetans were "connected with the Han and other ethnic groups in blood relationship, language, culture and other aspects," the official Xinhua news agency reported. "Economic, political and cultural exchanges between Tibet and inland China 'have never been broken off'," the paper said.

"Historical facts clearly demonstrate that the so called 'Tibetan independence' was in fact cooked up by old and new imperialists, and was part of Western aggressors' scheme to carve up the territory of China," it added.

China has claimed sovereignty over Tibet for centuries, and when the Communist regime came to power in Beijing in 1949, it reaffirmed that claim. Chinese troops moved into Tibet in 1950, and the following year, it was formally made a part of the People's Republic of China.

After a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama -- Tibet's religious leader -- fled the region.

He has since headed an exile government in India, although he recently decided to step down from political duties. The comments come as the Dalai Lama visits the United States and meets lawmakers there, in a move likely to irritate Beijing, which accuses the exiled leader of pursuing separatism.

The Dalai Lama, however, denies this and says he is peacefully seeking greater rights for Tibetans, many of whom accuse the government of trying to dilute their culture and criticise what they view as increasing domination by the Han.