China has lashed out at the United States for remarks by a U.S. official blaming Beijing's policies in Tibet for a string of self-immolation protests.
Maria Otero, a U.S. undersecretary of state and special coordinator for Tibetan issues, expressed concern about the burnings Wednesday and called on Beijing to let Tibetans express their grievances freely.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded on Friday, calling Otero's comments “disgusting” and saying the Tibet issue had nothing to do with human rights, ethnicity or religion.
Hong repeated Beijing's position, blaming the Tibetans' spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and his supporters of inciting the immolations as a way of promoting separation from China.
The Dalai Llama, living in exile in India, has denied any involvement in the immolations.