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Canadian diplomats still denied access to Tibet despite requests – Minister Freeland

September 24, 2018

Ottawa, September 24, 2018 – China continues to deny access to Canadian diplomats requesting permission to visit Tibet, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland in a written statement made on September 17, 2018. [1]

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. [2] 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.   

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

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.” [3]

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”. [4]

# # #

[1] The Minister’s statement came in response to an order paper question submitted in June by Member of Parliament Randall Garrison (Vice Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet).  The order paper question #1858 can be accessed at https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-319/order-notice/page-9 .  Minister Freeland’s response is found at https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-319/hansard 

[2] 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

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

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

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