A Tibetan monk set himself on fire in western China and was beaten by security forces as they put out the flames, a rights group said, marking the latest in a series of dramatic protests against China's handling of its vast Tibetan areas.
Responding to spiraling unrest in Tibetan areas, Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday defended China's policies on Tibet, saying the government respects traditional culture and freedom of religious belief. He said China has invested heavily in Tibet and will continue to do so.
He also said attempts to undermine stability by inciting monks was counter to the interests of Tibetans.
Activist groups say the self-immolations are a protest against China's policies and a call for the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' exiled spiritual leader.