Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Tibet as Chinese president, affirming Beijing’s control over a region where its military buildup and policies on ethnic assimilation have drawn international criticism.

Xi arrived in the regional capital of Lhasa on Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency wrote on social media. He inspected the operations of the Sichuan-Tibet railway during his visit, China Central Television said.

State media showed Xi being greeted by enthusiastic Tibetans and riding a train with Liu He, China’s economic czar, and Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.