Tibetan Plateau uplift has long been considered to be a main driving force for mid-latitude Asian inland aridity (AIA) and for deposition of thick aeolian sequences in northern China since the Miocene. However, a lack of well-dated and thick aeolian sequences has hindered testing of such relationships over longer timescales. We have recently dated a continuous aeolian sequence that spans the interval from >51 to 39 Ma from the eastern Xorkol Basin, Altun Shan, northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The basal age of the studied sequence postdates initial uplift of the Tibetan Plateau by several million years. Our results indicate that the local palaeoclimate was teleconnected strongly to the overall global cooling pattern, so that enhanced aridification recorded by the studied aeolian sequence is dominantly a response to global climatic forcing rather than plateau uplift.