Canadian diplomats still denied access to Tibet despite multiple requests says Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland

Canadian diplomats still denied access to Tibet despite multiple requests says Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland, 17 September 2018. Image designed by Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Ottawa, Canada: Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, in a written statement issued last Monday, said China continues to deny access to Canadian diplomats requesting permission to visit Tibet.

The Minister’s statement came in response to an order paper question submitted in June by Member of Parliament Randall Garrison. Mr Garrison is also the Vice Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet.

The question raised by MP Garrison reads: “With regard to the statements issued by the Delegation from Tibet that addressed the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on May 8, 2018, whereby Mr Baimawangdui, head of the delegation and deputy of the People’s Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), claimed that “the China-Canada is maintaining a good momentum of development with close contact between the higher levels”:

  1. Since 2016, how many requests has the Government of Canada made to the Chinese government for permission to visit Tibet, and, of those requests, (i) how many were denied, (ii) how many were approved;
  2. Of those approved in (a), when did the visits take place, and over the course of these meetings (i) where in Tibet did Canadian diplomats visit, (ii) were any limits or restrictions placed on Canadian delegation regarding where they could travel and who they could speak with, (iii) were Canadian diplomats invited to address the local People’s Congress; and
  3. Since 2016, how many official delegations from Tibet have visited Canada, and during those visits (i) where in Canada did the delegations visit, (ii) were any limits or restrictions placed on the visiting delegation regarding where they could travel and who they could speak with, (iii) did Canadian officials meet with the delegation members, and, If so, from which ministries?

According to Minister Freeland, since 2016 both Canadian diplomatic personnel and Ambassador John McCallum have made multiple requests for the various permits required for anyone wishing to visit Tibet. None were approved.

In the same period of time, Canada has welcomed at least three official delegations from the Tibet Autonomous Region, including an unprecedented invitation to testify before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (SCFAID) on May 8, 2018.   

Sherap Therchin, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee said, “Reciprocity is a fundamental principal of diplomatic practice. Continued denial of reciprocal access to Tibet begs the question – what is China hiding?” 

CTC also said, “Responding to a related question from NDP Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière during the SCFAID hearing, Tibet delegation spokesperson Mr. Baima Wangdui appeared unaware of his own government’s policy.  He replied, “If you conform to the laws and regulations related to regional ethnic autonomy… I do believe that you would have a good chance of going to Tibet to have a look at it.”

“2018 has been designated the Canada-China Year of Tourism and is described on the government of Canada website as an opportunity to further “people-to-people exchange and bilateral cooperation”.

The above report is sourced from Canada Tibet Committee.

[1] The order paper question #1858 submitted in June by Member of Parliament Randall Garrison can be accessed at https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-319/order-notice/page-9 . 

[2] Minister Freeland’s response is found at https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-319/hansard

[3] Any foreigner visiting Tibet is required to have up to 3 special permits plus a regular Chinese visa. The permits are for entry, for travel outside of Lhasa, and for travel to “military sensitive” areas, according to www.tibettravel.org

[4] SCFAID evidence transcript, May 8, 2018 at (1625) http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/FAAE/meeting-96/evidence

[5] http://tourismchina-ca.com/canadian-p-m-and-li-jinzao-co-unveil-the-2018-china-canada-tourism-year/