China lashed out against the Dalai Lama for “taking sides” in the territorial row with Japan and “encouraging” protests in the form of self-immolations, highlighting the mounting anxiety among Tibetans of Chinese rule as the country hands over power to new leaders.

Beijing accused the exiled Tibetan leader of allying with Japan after Chinese media reported that he referred to the disputed islands by their Japanese names during a news conference in Yokohama, contrary to AP’s review of the recorded event in which he called them “the islands”.

“To achieve his separatist goal, he associated with the Japanese right-wing forces. Chinese people despise him for what he did. We are firmly opposed to any country’s providing a stage for him,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Hong condemned the Dalai Lama’s remarks accusing the Chinese government of causing despair and hopelessness among Tibetans prompting them to set themselves on fire as a sign of protest.

“Not only did the Dalai not condemn them, but he actually glorified these acts, which are against the national law and religious principles,” Hong said.

The Dalai Lama criticized Chinese media for claiming that he sided with the Japanese and long condemned any form of violence. This comes after a Tibetan man set himself on fire, the latest of a string of protests in the region. Rights group Free Tibet brought the number of self-immolations to seven in six days.