China has stepped up security in Tibet as the Himalayan region marks the sensitive anniversaries of the failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and bloody riots two years ago.
In the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on Wednesday residents reported an upsurge in armed police guarding intersections and checking ID cards, with uniformed and plainclothes security out in force.
The failure of the 1959 uprising led the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, to flee across the Himalayas into exile in India.
In 2008 protests marking the anniversary of that uprising spread into deadly rioting in Lhasa and in Tibetan areas elsewhere in China, in what was the most serious anti-Chinese unrest seen in decades.
China has said 21 people were killed by "rioters", with one other "insurgent" killed by security forces.
But the Tibetan government-in-exile says more than 200 people were killed in the 2008 protests, with at least 1,000 others injured in the unrest and subsequent crackdown.
Security has been tight in Tibet ever since, although residents say that in the run-up to Wednesday's anniversary it has been stepped up even more.
Foreign reporters are barred from travelling to the region except for on occasional tours organised by the Chinese government.
|The Dalai Lama fled into exile following the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule [AFP]
In a speech marking the uprising anniversary the Dalai Lama accused Chinese authorities of trying to "annihilate Buddhism" in Tibet as Beijing seeks to strengthen its hold on the region.
In his annual address he said China was conducting a campaign of "patriotic re-education" in monasteries in Tibet.
"They are putting the monks and nuns in prison-like conditions, depriving them the opportunity to study and practice in peace," he said.
"Whether the Chinese government acknowledges it or not, there is a serious problem in Tibet," he told a crowd of thousands of Tibetan exiles in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala.
China views the Dalai Lama as a separatist and blames him for instigating unrest in Tibet.
But in his address on Wednesday the Tibetan leader said attempts to talk to the
Chinese leadership about granting limited autonomy to the Tibetan people had gone nowhere.
"Judging by the attitude of the present Chinese leadership, there is little hope that a result will be achieved soon," he said.
"Nevertheless, our stand to continue with the dialogue remains unchanged."
On Tuesday a senior Tibetan Communist Party official accused the Dalai Lama of trying to "create chaos" in Tibet.
"If there were no anti-China forces or no Dalai to destroy and create chaos, Tibet would be better off than it is today," Zhang Qingli, the region's Communist Party secretary, said on a government website.