Mongolia government expresses regret over Dalai Lama’s visit

By Liu Caiyu and Yang Tao Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/21 13:38:39

Mongolia said Tuesday it deeply regrets allowing the Dalai Lama to visit and promised not to invite him again.

The implication of the Dalai Lama's visit has gone beyond religion, and bilateral ties between Mongolia and China have been affected, Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil told local media in an interview.

A source close to the Chinese foreign ministry told the Global Times said his statement was an apology to the Chinese government.

Mongolia is making efforts to bring bilateral ties back on the right track by restoring dialogue between the two sides, said Munkh-Orgil, adding that his country has resolutely stuck to the one-China policy and acknowledges that Tibet is an inseparable part of China.

"Mongolia's hostility toward China can only bring it short-term gratification, but it will suffer in the long run," Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"Geopolitically, Mongolia cannot break away from either China or Russia due to its border trade and economic recession," said Da.

"China shall accept Mongolia's apology because China doesn't want to create friction in Northeast Asia either, particularly at a time when it is facing tensions with other nations, such as Japan and South Korea."

China attaches great importance to Mongolia's clear attitude, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said at a daily briefing on Wednesday, in response to a previous Global Times report. She added that Mongolia shall learn a lesson from this Tibet-related affair and respect the core interests of China.

The Dalai Lama preached to thousands in Mongolia in November, risking the country's ties with China at a time when it is seeking greater bilateral trade.

Mongolia's budget deficit this year has doubled to $1 billion, while its gross domestic product contracted by 1.6 percent in the first nine months, Bloomberg reported in November.

The Mongolian foreign minister said last month the Dalai Lama's visit was purely religious in nature, and the Mongolian government had no role in the invitation.

However, the Mongolian government gave the Dalai Lama a high-level reception during his stay. A gathering was even held in a gym partly funded by China.

Munkh-Orgil said China also cancelled a biannual consultative meeting between the two governments, and a visit by Mongolian Prime Minister Erdenebat Jargaltulga to China next year also remains in doubt, Bloomberg said.

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