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China Rejects US Concerns Over Immolated Tibetan Monks

China is telling the United States the self-immolation of two Tibetan monks is none of Washington's business.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday that China opposes interference in its internal affairs by any other country. He also insisted that China protects the legal rights of its ethnic minorities.

Hong was reacting to U.S. remarks concerning reports that two monks had set themselves on fire at a monastery in western China to protest government policies.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urged Beijing Tuesday to respect the rights of Tibetans and to address policies that have created tension in their areas. She also asked Beijing to protect Tibetans’ unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity.

Nuland said the United States continues to urge the Chinese government to allow access to Tibetan areas of China for journalists and diplomats.

Hong declined to say Wednesday whether that policy would change, advising journalists to apply for permission through normal channels.

Tibetan exiles reported Monday that two monks from the Ngaba Kirti monastery in Sichuan province set themselves on fire Monday in an apparent anti-Beijing protest. Media reports said one of the monks died, while the other is in critical condition.

The said one of the monks is the brother of a young Buddhist who died after setting himself on fire at the monastery in March. That protest marked the third anniversary of anti-China unrest and a Chinese crackdown in the same area.

Official Chinese media have not reported on Monday's protests.