Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has called China a "great nation," but described its political system as "harmful."
He told an audience Friday at Washington's National Cathedral that the Chinese people need more freedom and less government censorship.
The Dalai Lama said the Chinese system is harmful to developing individual creativity, adding said he is concerned that poor Chinese have a hard time addressing their grievances through the judicial system.
When someone in the audience asked the Dalai Lama why China objects to his visit to Washington, he replied "ask them."
Chinese officials say they have lodged a protest with the United States over the Dalai Lama's visit to the Capitol Thursday, where he led the U.S. Senate in prayer and met with congressional leaders.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Congress should honor its commitment to recognize Tibet as part of China and not support Tibetan independence.
The Dalai Lama denies China's insistence that he is a Tibetan separatist. He said he accepts Chinese rule and only wants more Tibetan autonomy and human rights. He also denies China's assertion that he encourages Tibetan separatists to set themselves on fire as a form of protest.
The Dalai Lama met with President Barack Obama at the White House last week. Obama repeated his strong support for Tibet's religious and cultural traditions. He commended the Dalai Lama's non-violent approach for more Tibetan autonomy.