The Dalai Lama on Monday said Tibetans faced "cultural genocide" under hardline Chinese rule that he blamed for a recent wave of self-immolations in China's southwest.
"Chinese communist propaganda create a very rosy picture. But actually, including many Chinese from mainland China who visit Tibet, they all have the impression things are terrible," the Dalai Lama told journalists in Tokyo.
"Some kind of policy, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," the 76-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader said, in comments that are likely to rile Beijing.
Eight Buddhist monks and two nuns have set themselves alight in ethnically Tibetan parts of Sichuan province since the self-immolation of a young monk in March at Kirti monastery sparked a government crackdown.
Activists say that at least five monks and two nuns have died and that Chinese police have at times responded by beating the burning protesters and their colleagues rather than providing assistance.
"(In the) last 10, 15 years, there were some kind of hardliner Chinese officials," the Dalai Lama said at the news conference. "So that's why you see these sad incidents have happened due to this desperate sort of situation."
China has accused the Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland for India in 1959, of instigating the burnings in a form of "terrorism in disguise."
In March 2008, major anti-Chinese unrest erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and spread to neighbouring areas of western China with Tibetan populations.
Tibet's exiled government said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in a subsequent clampdown. Beijing said "rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths.
A month later the Dalai Lama, who is reviled by the Chinese government, accused China of "cultural genocide".