ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) – The Dalai Lama will not be invited to Mongolia again, the Mongolian foreign minister has said, after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s trip there last month angered China, which considers him a dangerous separatist.
The Dalai Lama is cherished as a spiritual leader in predominantly Buddhist Mongolia but Beijing was infuriated, postponing meetings with Mongolian officials and imposing new fees on commodity shipments.
“Under this current government, the Dalai Lama will not be invited to Mongolia, even for religious reasons,” Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil told the Mongolian newspaper Unuudur on Tuesday.
The Mongolian Foreign Ministry confirmed the comments to Reuters late on Wednesday.
Asked about the remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China “attached great importance” to his clear stance.
China “hopes the Mongolian side can really learn the lessons from this incident, earnestly respect China’s core interests, abide by its promises and work hard to promote the improvement of China-Mongolia ties”, she said.
Mongolia has previously said that the Dalai Lama’s trip had nothing to do with the government and that he had been invited by Mongolian Buddhists.
While in Mongolia, the Dalai Lama said he would visit U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
In 2006, China briefly cancelled flights between Beijing and Ulaanbaatar after the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia.
Beijing frequently expresses its anger with countries that host the Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk, who fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against the Chinese.
China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist, although he says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland, which Communist Chinese troops “peacefully liberated” in 1950.
Rights groups and exiles accuse China of trampling on the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people, charges strongly denied by Beijing, which says its rule has ended serfdom and brought prosperity to a once-backward region.
(Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)