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Beijing marks 50 years since it established autonomous government to rule Tibet

  • In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a grand ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region is held at the square of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (Chen Yehua/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES

    In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a grand ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region is held at the square of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (Chen Yehua/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

  • A worshipper turns a prayer wheel as she offers prayers at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Chinese government on Tuesday staged a mass spectacle in front of the Potala Palace in the regional capital of Lhasa, once home to the Dalai Lama and now a museum, marking 50 years since Tibet's establishment as an ethnic autonomous region firmly under the control of Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    A worshipper turns a prayer wheel as she offers prayers at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Chinese government on Tuesday staged a mass spectacle in front of the Potala Palace in the regional capital of Lhasa, once home to the Dalai Lama and now a museum, marking 50 years since Tibet's establishment as an ethnic autonomous region firmly under the control of Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, phalanxes attend a grand ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region at the square of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Schoolchildren waved flags and paramilitary troops marched in full battle dress as the Chinese government on Tuesday staged a mass spectacle marking 50 years since Tibet's establishment as an ethnic autonomous region firmly under the control of Beijing. The banner reads: "Celebration for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region." (Pang Xinglei/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES

    In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, phalanxes attend a grand ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region at the square of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Schoolchildren waved flags and paramilitary troops marched in full battle dress as the Chinese government on Tuesday staged a mass spectacle marking 50 years since Tibet's establishment as an ethnic autonomous region firmly under the control of Beijing. The banner reads: "Celebration for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region." (Pang Xinglei/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

The Chinese government is holding a ceremony marking 50 years since it established Tibet as an ethnic autonomous region.

Top political adviser Yu Zhengsheng stressed that Tibet was ethnically united during a speech in the Tibetan capital of Llasa in front of the Potala Palace, once home to the Dalai Lama and now a museum.

Yu said the Himalayan region had gone through many changes during the 50 years, and its gross domestic product had grown 68 times.

He mentioned the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' spiritual leader, who Beijing regards as a separatist. Yu said that activities by him and others to "split China and undermine ethnic unity have been defeated time and time again."

London-based Free Tibet said Beijing was trying to define Tibetan identity according to its priorities.