ON THE WEB, 21 December 2016
China said Wednesday it hoped Mongolia could “draw lessons” from the fallout over hosting the Dalai Lama after the Mongolian foreign minister announced that the Tibetan spiritual leader would no longer be allowed to visit the country.
Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil said Tuesday that the Dalai Lama would not be allowed to visit in the future, even for religious reasons, the official Xinhua news agency cited the Mongolian newspaper Today as saying.
The Nobel laureate had met with Buddhist worshippers in Ulan Bator in November, despite Beijing’s strident demands that he be barred from entering the country.
Following the visit, it was widely reported that China had taken punitive measures against Mongolia, including stopping trucks carrying coal from crossing the Chinese border, a move with heavy repercussions for Mongolian mining concerns.
At a regular press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Tibet-related issues bore on the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We hope that the Mongolian side can draw lessons from this, respect China’s core interests, honour its commitment and make efforts to improve China-Mongolian relations,” she said.
Mongolia is home to devout Buddhists, whose religion is closely related to the Tibetan tradition, but the landlocked country is heavily dependent on trade with China, and Ulan Bator has tried to avoid angering its giant neighbour.
Beijing views the exiled Buddhist monk as a devious separatist bent on breaking apart China and consistently condemns foreign leaders who meet with him.
The Dalai Lama says he seeks more autonomy for Tibet rather than outright independence.
His previous visit to sparsely populated Mongolia came in 2011, in the midst of a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans in China angry about what they saw as religious repression and growing domination by the country’s majority Han ethnic group.