China on Friday ruled out allowing international observers to visit Tibet to investigate human rights abuses even as reports from restive areas of the region said thousands of students took to the streets in the Qinghai province to protest against the self-immolation of a student.
"We hope that (people) from all fields within the country and outside go to Tibet often to look around, study and travel, but as to some other aspects, we are not that welcoming," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet's regional assembly told reporters during the ongoing 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) which was inaugurated on Thursday.
"(Those) who think there are any problems in Tibet, human rights problems, arrogantly wanting to pursue investigations, to use these situations to propose entering Tibet, (I'm) afraid we feel it's inappropriate," he said.
Qiangba's response comes within days of the UN urging China to allow international monitors to assess the ground situation in Tibetan areas which have seen an escalation in extreme forms of protest including self-immolations.
In an emphatic statement, UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay had said that social stability in Tibet will never be achieved through heavy security measures and suppression of human rights."
The official response also comes on a day when, according to rights group Free Tibet, thousands of Tibetan students had taken to the streets of Rebkong County calling for Tibetan equality, language rights and the return of the Dalai Lama.
"Between 4000 to 5,000 students participated in the demonstration which took place between 5am and 6am (local time) this morning," the group said, adding, "the students marched through the town, bringing traffic to a halt, stopping to demonstrate outside a local government compound. It is believed that teenage middle school students, and young people from a local teacher training college, aged in their early-20s were involved. "
A total of seven Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the past six days, according to Tibetan rights group International Campaign for Tibet.
China has barred foreign journalists from Tibet and prevented many others from travelling to surrounding Tibetan regions, making independent verification difficult.
Qiangba said, "(we) welcome all of you to go to Tibet to see Tibet's real situation. Listening is false, seeing is believing."
He, however, did not say when foreign reporters may be allowed back in.
China has branded the self-immolators as "terrorists" and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, for inciting them, charges he denies. "External Tibetan separatist forces and the Dalai clique are sacrificing the lives of others to achieve ulterior political motives," Lobsang Gyaltsen, Tibet's deputy governor, said.