Mongolia’s decision to seek India’s help in negating China’s trade blockade following Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s visit to Ulaanbaatar is a “politically harebrained” move that will only complicate the situation, the Chinese state media said on Friday.
China suspended two rounds of diplomatic talks with Mongolia and hiked land transit charges for Mongolian trucks passing through its territory after the Dalai Lama’s visit.
“Hiking over-land transit charges, according to foreign media, is among a series of countermeasures China has adopted to punish Mongolia for its ‘erroneous action’ in defiance of China's warning. A few days after the Dalai Lama's visit, China suspended indefinitely two sets of talks with the Mongolian side, which is in dire need of Chinese loans for infrastructure and development projects,” the nationalistic Global Times tabloid said in a report.
“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,” the report said.
Following the visit, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Mongolia should “adopt effective measures to eliminate the negative effects of the Dalai Lama's visit”. Geng did not confirm the hike in transit fees.
According to the tabloid, Geng’s statement indicated that the “precondition for bringing Sino-Mongolian ties back on track is that Ulaanbaatar must realise it was wrong to touch China's red line of the Dalai Lama”.
To Mongolia, the Dalai Lama could only be a “religious leader”, but China doesn’t agree.
The Global Times used strong language to describe the Dalai Lama. “But 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,” it 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 added.
“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. 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.”
The “third neighbour” referred to in the article is apparently India.
”Mongolia seems naive about the way international relations work - you cannot harm a country's interests while hoping it can reciprocate nicely,” the report said. “Mongolia should know that mutual respect is the precondition to develop bilateral relationships and hitch a ride on China's economic development.”