DHARAMSALA, Aug 22: The Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Mongolia this month has been cancelled as Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the country from Aug 21-22, reported Kyodo News International citing multiple sources.
The cancellation of the Tibetan leader’s visit is believed to have resulted from China’s effective use of economic clout on the mineral-rich country, whose economy is largely dependent on China as a source of investment and as an export market for its minerals.
The Tibetan Buddhist circles were reported to have begun planning early this year for the Tibetan leader’s visit to Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, to preside over a large-scale Kalachakra empowerment. The Tibetan leader’s Kalachakra teachings in the country in Aug 1995 had attracted 30,000 followers.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made eight visits since his first in 1979 to the country, where a majority of the population follows Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness last visited Mongolia in Nov 2011, drawing protests from China.
Preparations for his ninth visit were suspended after a plan for China’s leader to visit Mongolia the same month emerged and began to take shape after Xi was invited by Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to visit the country at an early date when the two met in Shanghai last May on the sidelines of a regional meeting, the report said.
The report said Mongolia’s Foreign Ministry had not commented on the Dalai Lama’s visit plan, except to say visits by religious leaders had nothing to do with the work of government.
But it cited multiple sources as saying the government, under pressure from China, had requested Tibetan Buddhist circles in the country to cancel the planned events.
Xi Jinping arrived in Ulan Bator Aug 21 morning and his talks with Mongolian President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on Thursday were said to be fruitful and that he believes the China-Mongolia practical cooperation will stride ahead and benefit the two peoples, reported Xinhua Aug 22.
According to the report, the two leaders signed a joint declaration to upgrade the bilateral ties from a ‘strategic partnership’ to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’.
The report further noted that the two presidents also set a target of expanding two-way trade to 10 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
In his meeting with Zandaakhuu Enkhbold, the Chairman of the Mongolian parliament, the report said Xi expressed hope that the Mongolian Parliament will support the cooperation between the two countries and provide a transparent, stable and favourable legal environment for cooperation.
Enkhbold responded by saying the State Great Hural (the Mongolian Parliament) backs the priority that the Mongolian government attaches to the relationship with China in its foreign policy, adding it also supports China’s stance on Taiwan and Tibet affairs.
Xi Jinping’s two-day visit is the first visit in 11 years by a Chinese head of state to Mongolia. The last visit by a Chinese president to Mongolia was in 2003 when Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor, went to Ulan Bator.