By Tenzin Dharpo
Minister for Religion and Culture of CTA, Karma Gelek Yuthok. phayul file photo
DHARAMSHALA, June 24: In yet another incident of China exerting undue influence in the neighboring Mongolia, a senior minister and representatives from the exile Tibetan government known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has been denied visa to attend a conference there.
Minister of the Religion and Culture of the CTA, Karma Gelek Yuthok and representatives from various sects of the Tibetan Buddhism were expected to participate in the Asian Buddhist Conference that began Friday in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. Their visas were denied days before the event began.
CTA run Tibet.net cited the senior minister as saying that the denial of visa is the clearest sign yet of China’s aggressive campaign of undermining core democratic freedoms across the world, and even hampering the basic exercises of other countries through severe political intimidation.
“The forced cancellation of our participation as representatives of one of the greatest contributors to the Buddhist tradition worldwide poses serious questions. Even more so, in the light that China itself is home to the largest Buddhist population in the world,” Yuthok said.
Earlier in 2016, following the visit of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Mongolia, China’s relation with its economically poorer neighbour soured. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called the visit “erroneous” saying that the Dalai Lama’s visit “hurt the political foundation of China-Mongolia relations and exerted negative impact on the development of bilateral relations.”
Beijing also began imposing transport tariffs on vehicles on the Mongolia’s most important routes carrying essential supplies, resulting in blockades for weeks at the China-Mongolia border. China further postponed key bilateral meetings with Mongolia including a bi-annual meeting between the legislative bodies of the two nations.
China’s economic clout and military rise in the global arena has meant more and more nations and leaders backing out from publicly espousing support for Tibet, its government based in exile and the Dalai Lama.