As China’s economic clout has grown over recent years, so too has its ability to pressure foreign governments into toeing the party line – a power which they have not hesitated to use. This is certainly true when it comes to Tibet (and the Dalai Lama), but also other disputed and sensitive regions such as Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. Beijing regards all these territories to be an inalienable part of ‘One China Policy’ and doesn’t hesitate to take drastic measures against anyone who they see as disputing this ‘fact’. It is for this reason that countries tread lightly when dealing with Tibet.
China even accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating for Tibetan independence, despite his long record of pursuing a middle way compromise, and so considers any meeting with the spiritual leader as an attack on their sovereignty.
China Warning to The World
Zhang Yijiong, who heads the Communist Party’s Tibet working group, told reporters on the sidelines of a party congress that there could be no excuses to meeting the Dalai Lama. “Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So, I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” he added
Visits by the Dalai Lama to foreign countries infuriate China, and fewer and fewer national leaders are willing to meet him, fearing the consequences of Chinese anger, though some have tried to placate Beijing by saying they are meeting him in a personal, not official capacity.
Foreign leaders can’t think they can get away with meeting exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama just because they are doing it in a personal capacity, as they still represent their government, a senior Chinese official said.
Dalai Lama visit to Mongolia
After the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia in November 2016, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed that “the Dalai Lama’s furtive visit to Mongolia brought a negative impact to China-Mongolia relations”.
One-week later China issued Mongolia their punishment, hitting them with extra fees and charges on the import and transport of goods. Shortly after, the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsend Munkh-Orgil is reported to have promised China that they would never invite the Dalai Lama again, and was quoted as saying:
“Mongolia firmly supports the one-China policy, consistently holds that Tibet is an inseparable part of China [and] that the Tibet issue is China’s internal affair”
A statement on China’s Foreign Ministry website declared: “We hope that Mongolia has taken this lesson to heart”.
Dalai Lama met Slovak President
In November 2016, Dalai Lama, on a trip to Europe, met President Kiska on Sunday over lunch in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, according to the Dalai Lama’s official website.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Kiska had ignored China’s “strong opposition” to the meeting, which was contrary to the “one China” policy the Slovak government has promised to uphold. The meeting has “broken the political basis of China-Slovak relations”, Hua said.
“China demand the Slovak side clearly recognize the anti-Chinese separatist nature of the Dalai Lama clique and earnestly respect China’s core interests and major concerns.” Hua Chunying added.
“China is resolutely opposed to this and will make a corresponding response,” Hua told a daily news briefing in Beijing, without giving details.
Slovakia Bends under Chinese Threats
Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Fico (Smer) said “Sino-Slovak relations are getting back to normal after a cool off lasting for a year”. He believes that after a year in the cold with China, things are getting back to normal.
Slovakia has started to cooperate with China in railway-cargo transport and in customs. Furthermore, Bratislava has asked for an acceleration in the issuing of certificates for high-quality Slovak foodstuffs designated for export, with cooperation in the energy sector field being revived, too. “I personally care about it very much, as China is a promising partner for us,” underlined Fico.
First cargo train from China in early November 2017 ended at the Dobrá terminal [Košice Region],” said Fico. “A wide-gauge rail is used on the route leading from China via Russia to the Ukraine and then the cargo is transhipped to Slovak [narrow-gauge] rails at the Dobrá terminal, thus significantly increasing the volume of Slovak cargo.
Dalai Lama meeting UK Prime Minister
UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Nick Clegg met the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, at St Paul’s Cathedral in May 2012.
Britain frozen under Chinese Pressure
After serious opposition from the Chinese Government, the UK changed its stance, and the Cameron government issued a statement that “David Cameron will distance Britain from the Dalai Lama during a trip to China next week as the price for restoring full business and diplomatic relations with Beijing. The changed stance is the result of an internal Whitehall debate on the best approach to Tibet and China that was won by the chancellor, George Osborne.
George Osborne, the chancellor told a group of ministers at a private gathering attended by Cameron that Britain’s relationship with China was of such economic and geopolitical significance that it could not allow British sensitivities over human rights to complicate matters. It is understood that the Foreign Office was keen for Britain to tread with care.
As the Free Tibet group called on the prime minister to raise the issue of human rights in Tibet, Downing Street sources said Britain has “turned a page” on Dalai Lama and Cameron has no plans to meet him in the foreseeable future.
Downing Street 10 source said: “This visit is forward-looking. We have turned a page on that issue. It is about the future and how we want to shift UK-China relations up a gear.”
Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, said: “David Cameron may now claim to be opening a new chapter with China, but in truth, this visit is an attempt to make up a lot of lost ground. He came to office saying strengthening the UK’s relationship with China would be a top foreign policy priority, but his lack of diplomatic skill has put the UK-China relationship in the deep freeze for the last three years.”
Dalai Lama visit to United States
USA President Barack Obama who had previously met Dalai Lama in 2010 and 2011, held low-key talks with the Dalai Lama on February 21, 2014. China’s vice foreign minister, Zhang Yesui, summoned Daniel Kritenbrink, charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, to condemn the meeting as interference in China’s internal affairs, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
The meeting was “a wrong move by the United States that seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs and seriously violated the U.S. promise of not supporting ‘Tibet independence”.
“The United States’ insistence on doing so would seriously damage China-U.S. cooperation and bilateral relations, and would also harm the interests of the United States itself,” Zhang said. “The United States must take concrete actions to gain the trust of the Chinese government and people.”
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