China says it will take measures to ensure the stability of a heavily Tibetan part of the country, after a series of self-immolations to protest against Chinese religious policies in the region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday China opposes ethnic separatism and will make every effort to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"Tibetan affairs are China's internal affairs. There is no such thing as a Tibet problem as pushed by the Dalai group and its supporters" said Jian Yu. "The Chinese government firmly opposes ethnic separatism, will resolutely protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and firmly opposes any country using the excuse of the so-called Tibet problem to interfere in China's internal affairs," she added.
Nine monks have set themselves on fire this year, mostly in the southwestern province of Sichuan, to protest what they consider China's religious repression. The latest victim, a nun, was the first woman among the nine to die of self-immolation.
The Dalai Lama led a prayer for the victims Wednesday in his place of exile in India.
China's government accused him of encouraging the self-immolation of Buddhist monks by glorifying the actions instead of condemning them.
The Dalai Lama has discouraged self-immolation in the past, saying it violates Buddhist teaching on the sanctity of life.
The United States has repeatedly called on Beijing to protect the rights of China's minorities and Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity.