Paris: The leader of Tibet's exiled government on Thursday compared China to the regimes of North Korea and apartheid South Africa when it came to Beijing's iron-fisted control over Tibetans.
Speaking on a trip to Paris aimed at putting the spotlight back onto the Tibetan cause, Lobsang Sangay told AFP in an interview that the arrival of Xi Jinping as China's president had done nothing to ease the situation in the Himalayan region.
The Communist regime is accused of widespread repression of Tibetans' religion, culture and language that has sparked an unprecedented wave of self-immolations, but Beijing categorically denies this, saying it has brought prosperity and better living conditions to an impoverished region.
"Inside Tibet, nothing has changed, in fact it has gotten worse," Sangay said, ahead of a meeting with French parliamentarians.
He said surveillance cameras had been installed all over major urban centres in Tibetan areas, and that Tibetans had been issued with "identity cards with second-generation high-tech chips."
"That means if you show it to any hotel or any check point, they will know exactly where you are from because all your biometrics are in that second-generation ID card.
"It's almost like a reminder of North Korea or East Germany or the apartheid regime -- the control over Tibetan people, (their) every movement."
Sangay, who took over as political leader of the Tibetan cause in 2011 when the Dalai Lama pared back his role, is in Paris until Saturday when he will attend a European rally marking a failed 1959 uprising against China.
That uprising forced the Dalai Lama to flee, and the Tibetan spiritual leader has been living in exile in India ever since.
Both the Dalai Lama and Sangay advocate greater autonomy for the Tibetan region within China, but Beijing accuses them of being separatists and wanting flat-out independence.
As such, Beijing is resisting calls to resume talks with Tibetan officials that broke down in 2010 on securing political and cultural freedoms for Tibetans, and Sangay said today there was still no progress on that front.