Chinese official media warned Mongolia on Friday that it is “politically harebrained” to seek India’s help as the move will further complicate bilateral ties, amid reports that Ulan Bator sought New Delhi’s support to overcome financial difficulties arising out of many factors including the imposition of border tariffs against it by China.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang declined to respond to a question on the Mongolian envoy to India Gonchig Ganhold’s reported comments on seeking India’s support to counter Chinese measures, saying he has not heard of any such remarks.
However, state-run Global Times criticised Mongolia for approaching India.
“Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia vows to remain a neutral state to benefit from both sides without having to get involved in a major-power competition,” it said in an article.
“However, it also hopes it could seek a third neighbour, which can enable the country to reap more profits by gaining more bargaining chips. But Mongolia should be alerted that it cannot afford the risks of such geopolitical games,” it said.
“Mongolia seems naive about the way international relations work - you cannot harm a country’s interests while hoping it can reciprocate nicely,” it said, adding “Mongolia should know that mutual respect is the precondition to develop bilateral relationships and hitch a ride on China’s economic development”.
“It is even more politically harebrained to ask for support from India, a move that will only complicate the situation and leave a narrower space to sort the issue out. We hope the crisis-hit Mongolia will learn its lessons,” it said.
Mongolia caught China by surprise by hosting the Dalai Lama last month for four days, saying that it was purely religious visit.
China protested with its Foreign Ministry spokesman saying the Tibetan spiritual leader is a “political exile who has long been engaging in splitting China activities in the name of religion with the aim of alienating Tibet from China”.
The spokesman, however, didn’t confirm or deny a number of countermeasures including hiking over-land transit charges cancelling key bilateral talks to punish Mongolia for its “erroneous action” in defiance of China’s warning.
Buddhism, which is widely followed in Mongolia, derives much of its characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism.
While Mongolia says it is purely a religious visit by Dalai Lama and there was no political strings attached to it, “since he fled to India in 1959 after his separatist revolt was upset, the Dalai Lama has become a political advocate calling for the separation of Tibet under the guise of religion,” the article said.
“In China’s narrative, he is much more a separatist than a religious figure. Receiving him implies endorsement of his deeds, which is highly disapproved of in both government and public discourses in China,” it said.
“Whether China’s countermeasures are real or not, Mongolia should reflect on its ill-considered handling of the case, lacking diplomatic sophistication and making trouble for in-depth cooperation between both sides,” it added.