China on Tuesday vowed to "resolutely crack down" any attempt to incite unrest, blaming overseas activist groups and the Dalai Lama of instigating the recent spate of self-immolations by Buddhist monks and violent clashes in Tibetan-inhabited areas.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said clashes last month between Tibetans and security forces in Sichuan province were the work of "criminals" and were instigated by overseas groups advocating for Tibetan independence.
"We believe that this is a case of a handful of criminals illegally gathering and smashing and looting," Liu said.
"The Chinese government will resolutely crack down on any attempt to incite violence or to disrupt national unity and integrity," he asserted. Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) initiated the signature campaign among the religious believers calling upon the Tibetans to self-immolate and protest, Liu told journalists during a briefing here.
The TYC asked signatories to choose to self immolate at different times, he said. Officially 16 monks and nuns have attempted self-immolations so far, demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and three more reportedly committed suicide recently.
Liu also blamed the Dalai Lama for the spate of self-immolations by Tibetan monks. The Dalai Lama while receiving religious believers from Tibet "preached actions were more important than praying", Liu said.
Liu's comments came after China fired three local officials in Tibet and issued a strong warning to others, telling them to be on guard to maintain "stability" in the restive Himalayan region.
While three administration officials in Tibet were dismissed for dereliction of duty in two separate cases, a notification issued for others warned of on the spot sacking if they fail to maintain social stability.
"Officials should always keep a clear mind and fully understand the extreme importance and urgency of maintaining stability at this time," Tibet Daily quoted a notification issued by the Tibet discipline commission as saying.
This was perhaps the first time that such a notice was issued after the 2008 riots in which mobs in the Tibetan capital Lhasa went on a rampage reportedly venting their ire against increasing settlements of people from mainland.
China blamed the Dalai Lama for instigating the riots. Meanwhile, justifying recent police firing on recent violent protest in Sichuan province, Liu said a "handful of criminal mobs" attacked civilian facilities and stores.
Authorities will resolutely crackdown on any attempt to incite violence, he said, adding that any country would have reacted the same way if police stations are attacked.
Providing a detailed account of what happened during the recent violence, Liu said while attacking the police stations the agitators shouted slogans calling for Tibetan independence, which is the "core appeal" of the protesters.
"They also distributed materials publicising Tibet independence," he said.
Some overseas organisation and Tibet independent organisations issued information distorting facts immediately following the incidents which is quite surprising", Liu said. "They also made remarks attacking Chinese government and its ethnic policies. It shows they are colluded the premeditated the incidents," he said.