Dalai Lama Mongolia visit will ‘test’ China
The Dalai Lama preached to thousands of supporters in Mongolia yesterday, on a visit set to test the country’s ties with China at a time when it is seeking a critical aid package from its powerful neighbour. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader addressed followers at the Gandantegchenlin monastery and spoke about materialism to kick-start a four-day visit that Mongolia has said will be purely religious in nature and won’t include meetings with officials. Still, the trip could have repercussions for land-locked Mongolia’s relationship with China, which briefly closed its border with Mongolia in 2002 to protest a visit by the Dalai Lama. China views the Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking to split Tibet from China and strongly opposes all countries from hosting the monk. On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry strongly urged Mongolia to deny the visit for the sake of a “sound and steady” development of bilateral ties. The Dalai Lama’s visit comes at a time when Mongolian leaders are seeking a $4.2 billion loan from Beijing to pull the country out of a deep recession. Mongolian religious figures say the visit could be the last for the 81-year-old spiritual leader, and some of his followers travelled hundreds of miles to see him.
CONTROVERSIAL: The Dalai Lama in Mongolia