As Tibetans around the world marked the 58th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, Chinese officials in Beijing vowed to "resolutely strike" against the "Dalai Lama clique's separatist activities."
Che Dalha, the newly appointed chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, said Beijing would take "a clear-cut stand against separatism."
China views the Dalai Lama, Tibet's Buddhist spiritual leader, as a dangerous separatist. The Nobel Peace laureate denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Che's remarks, reported by Reuters, came as Tibetans in Dharamsala, the Indian city that is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan administration-in-exile, held its annual commemoration of the Tibetan people's protest against Chinese occupation of Tibet that took place in Lhasa in 1959. Beijing refers to the action as a "peaceful liberation."
"Despite the repression and crackdown, Tibetans in Tibet have been at the forefront of the Tibetan freedom struggle," said Lobsang Sangay, political leader of the Tibetan administration-in-exile. "Even today as we speak, there is a major military presence in Lhasa ... making it reminiscent of a war zone."
Surveillance, displays of force
International human rights groups and exiles routinely condemn what they call China's oppressive rule in Tibetan areas. They say pervasive surveillance and displays of military force are being used to intimidate and quell dissent.
Tibetans and supporters protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi to mark the 58th anniversary of China’s presence in Tibet, March 10, 2017. (T. Wangyal/VOA)
Since 2009, protests have included 145 Tibetans in Tibetan areas self-immolating, calling for "Freedom for Tibet" and "Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet."
Elsewhere on Friday, from Sydney to San Francisco to Tokyo, Tibetans and supporters marked the anniversary of what is known as the March 10th Uprising.
Indian police arrested 150 Tibetan activists affiliated with the Tibetan Youth Congress as they protested at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.
In Minneapolis, the City Council was expected to vote Friday on a resolution in support of Tibetan self-determination, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In a letter Wednesday, the Chinese consul general in Chicago expressed "deep concerns" about the council's plans to declare March 10 as Tibet Day.
Some cities, including Richmond, in the San Francisco Bay Area, flew the Tibetan national flag, which is banned in Tibet, to mark the event.
The anniversary commemorations coincided with China's annual National People's Conference in Beijing.
On Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with official delegates from the Tibetan Autonomous Region in Beijing, according to state-run China Tibet Online News. He said Tibet must implement President Xi Jinping's 2012 comment, which has since been a major political slogan in Tibet: "To govern the nation, we must protect the borders, and to protect the borders, we must first stabilize Tibet."
Li also talked about the importance of economic development in achieving stability in Tibet.
VOA's Tsering Wangyal in New Delhi contributed to this report, which originated with VOA's Tibetan Service.