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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Canada must demand reciprocal diplomatic access to Tibet

October 03, 2016

Montreal, October 3, 2016 – China actively discourages Canadian requests for diplomatic visits to Tibet even though delegations from Tibet are welcomed to Canada whenever they request permission [1]. The admission is made in a Government of Canada response last week to an order paper question submitted in June 2016 [2].

The question was submitted by Member of Parliament Randall Garrison (Esquimalt – Saanich – Sooke) who is currently Vice-Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet.

According to the response, officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) commonly delay approval of travel permits for Canadian diplomats citing insufficient staff or by imposing convoluted application procedures.  In some cases, permits have been denied even when the visit purpose is to monitor Canada-funded projects.  If a permit is provided, according to the response, visits by Canadian diplomats are “tightly managed by local authorities” with little or no opportunity to interact with local residents.

Conversely, the Government of Canada has approved all visa requests from TAR officials seeking to visit Canada and no restrictions have been imposed on their activities in Canada.  Since 2008, at least 8 TAR delegations have visited Canada including for the purpose of governmental and parliamentary exchanges. 

“Reciprocity is a fundamental principal of diplomatic practice” said Carole Samdup, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee [3]. “Until Government of Canada officials can visit Tibet freely and without restrictions, diplomatic delegations from the TAR should not be welcomed here in Canada.”

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[1] 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

[2] The government response, “Answer to Order Paper Question 337”, can be viewed at http://randallgarrison.ndp.ca/sites/default/files/multisite/149171/field_content_files/order_paper_question_q-337_-_tibet_-_june_15_2016.pdf.  The original question (no. 337) is posted in English and French at http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=42&Ses=1&DocId=8380771&File=9  

[3] A by-partisan bill demanding reciprocal access is currently pending in the US Congress.  H.R.1112 - Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2015 is sponsored by Rep. James McGovern. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1112

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