One of China's government officials overseeing clerical groups and ethnic minorities swore that his sector would press even harder against Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama.

Yu Zhengsheng made comments pledging to fight the Dalai Lama just three days after Chinese police opened fire on a group of Tibetan monks who were celebrating the spiritual leader's birthday in the Tawu region of eastern Tibet.

Zhengsheng is number four on the Communist party's ladder of power, according to the Guardian. It appeared he publicized his desire to step up action against the Dalai Lama amid claims that China's new rulers might soften up on the exiled Tibetan cleric.

But Beijing still looks at the Dalai Lama as a heretic-a violent dissident who left China in 1959 after an uprising against the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama maintains that he is only looking for more freedom for his homeland.

During a visit to the densely Tibetan area of the western province of Gansu, Yu spoke to local government bodies and religious figures about the danger of the Dalai Lama's separatist ideals and activities. Yu mentioned that his anti-government behavior went against the nation's needs, and even combatted fundamental Buddhist traditions.

"For the sake of national unity and the development of stability in Tibetan regions, we must take a clear-cut stand and deepen the struggle against the Dalai clique," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Yu as saying.

Yu urged the leaders to abandon separatism, and to keep watch for any citizens going aginst the Communist party's rule.

According to Xinhua, Yu stressed that relations with the Dalai Lama would only get better if he publicly acknowledged that Tibet had been a piece of China since ancient times.

He continued to slam the Dalai Lama, mocking his "'middle way' aimed at achieving so-called 'high-degree autonomy' in 'Greater Tibet'" that he said "is completely opposite to China's constitution and the country's system of regional ethnic autonomy."

Saturday's attacks on the group of Tibetans gathered to recognize the Dalai Lama's 78 birthday have squashed any notions that China might ease up on Tibet. The Chinese police used live ammunition and tear gas shells to shoo the crowd away from the area.

One Tibetan monk, Tashi Sonam, was shot in the head. He's still in critical condition.