Hong Kong (CNN) -- Just days after reports that Chinese police fired on a group of Tibetans marking the Dalai Lama's birthday, one of China's most senior officials vowed to continue with the fight against the exiled Tibetan leader.
"The Dalai Lama has long been engaged in secessionist activities, which run against both the common interests of people of various ethnic groups and the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism," said Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
He then called for an "absolute fight" against what he termed "the Dalai clique" as a means of protecting Chinese unification.
"Only when the Dalai Lama publicly announces that Tibet is an inalienable part of China since ancient time, gives up the stance of 'Tibet independence' and stops his secessionist activities, can his relations with the CPC Central Committee possibly be improved," Yu added.
He was speaking during a visit Tuesday to a largely Tibetan area of the western province of Gansu.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising, has long denied China's assertion that he's seeking Tibetan independence. He says he wants only enough autonomy to protect its traditional Buddhist culture.
Beijing rejects accusations of oppression, saying that under its rule, living standards have greatly improved for the Tibetan people. It makes centuries-old historical claims on the region.
Meanwhile, London-based Tibetan advocacy group, Free Tibet, has claimed a Tibetan Monk was shot in the head, while at least six others received gunshot wounds, when Chinese security forces opened fire on a crowd in Tawu County in northwestern Sichuan Province on July 6. They were reportedly celebrating the Dalai Lama's 78th birthday at a sacred mountain.
According to the U.S.-based International Campaign for Tibet, large numbers of armed troops were deployed and attempted to prevent people from making their offerings and gatherings. Then without warning, according to several Tibetan sources the group said, police opened fire on the unarmed crowd and used tear-gas.
CNN could not confirm the authenticity of these reports, while Chinese officials could not be reached for comment.
In recent years, reports have circulated about a growing number of Tibetans setting themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule.
So far, more than 100 people have resorted to self-immolation, Tibetan advocacy groups have said. Independently verifying reported self-immolations inside China is often difficult because of restrictions on reporting from the restive areas and the reluctance of local officials to comment on the accounts provided by foreign groups such as Free Tibet.