Buddhist temples and monasteries in Tibet must become propaganda centers for the ruling Communist Party, where monks and nuns learn to "revere" science and appreciate the party's love, the troubled region's top Chinese appointed official said.

Rights groups and exiles say the officially atheist party tramples on Tibetans' religious and cultural traditions and seeks to co-opt religious figures for its own ends.

China, which "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1950, says it guarantees freedom of religion and its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region.