China tries to block visits of Canadian diplomats to Tibet, says Dion

Ottawa – China has for years tried to block Canadian diplomats from Tibet, banning some of them from visiting aid projects once funded by Canadian taxpayers, says Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

Dion said that while China has never denied a request by a high-level diplomat to visit Tibet, it has put up roadblocks, including delays in approving travel requests and shadowing Canadians while there.

Dion describes the problems in a written response to questions from New Democrat MP Randall Garrison that was recently tabled in the House of Commons.

The minister’s frank assessment comes as the Liberal government moves to expand trade with China, following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first visit to China and a return visit by its premier late this summer.

The Montreal-based, Canada Tibet Committee suggested the travel restrictions are part of China’s ongoing efforts to mask human rights abuses in the region it has controlled since the 1950s, when its invading forces drove out Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

By Mike Blanchfield
The Canadian Press

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