The Dalai Lama has called China a "great nation" during an address at Washington's National Cathedral but criticized its governmental system as "harmful."
The Buddhist spiritual leader said Friday that Tibetans are willing to remain part of China, though with greater autonomy to preserve their culture and environment.
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have welcomed the Nobel laureate during his U.S. visit, angering Beijing which regards him as an anti-Chinese separatist.
Asked Friday why China's government was upset by his activities, the Dalai Lama responded bluntly: "Ask them."
He criticised China's system as unfair and harmful to individual creativity. He said a number of Chinese people "show solidarity with us" and want more freedom.
Hundreds demonstrated outside the cathedral, many from a Buddhist sect opposed to the Dalai Lama.