(TibetanReview.net, Nov12’20) – The Ambassadors to China from Canada and Switzerland were reported to have visited Tibet in September and October this year, with the former being reported to be set to brief a Tibet group on Nov 16 and the latter having reportedly provided relevant Tibetan organizations in Switzerland with a confidential briefing. Both do not appear to have any plan to present media reports on their visits in apparent compliance with the terms on which Beijing let them in.
The purpose of their visit was to observe local conditions and to raise issues of concern with their Chinese hosts, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Nov 11.
The visit of Canada’s ambassador, Dominic Baton, was reported to have taken place from Oct 26 to 30. A Canadian government spokesperson for global affairs has told rfa.org’s Tibetan Service that the visit was the first by a Canadian official since 2015.
“The Ambassador observed the situation and developments on the ground, engaged with Tibetans, and discussed issues of concern to Canada,” the spokesperson has said.
The spokesperson has explained that foreign government officials required an official invitation to travel to the region, suggesting that it was a visit chaperoned by the Chinese government.
Sherab Tharchin, director of the Canada Tibet Committee, an NGO, has said that Baton will brief the Committee on Nov 16.
“He will update us on the political and human rights situations inside Tibet and also about the official meetings that he had during this trip.”
Tharchin has said the committee had earlier briefed Canada’s Foreign Affairs Office on issues of concern to Tibetans living in the country before the visit took place.
The visit of Switzerland’s ambassador Bernardino Regazzoni was reported to have taken place from Sep 7 to 11, the first official Swiss visit to the region since 2017.
An embassy spokesperson in Beijing has declined to provide details of the visit or what the ambassador had observed there.
“Switzerland’s FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs] has already provided relevant Tibetan organizations in Switzerland with a confidential briefing about the Ambassador’s visit,” Tehani Pestalozzi, head of the Culture and Media Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing, was quoted as saying in a written response to a query.
“Under these circumstances, we do not plan to provide further information,” Pestalozzi has said.
Given the lack of information and reports, the visits appear to have been allowed under strict conditions and apparently in response to the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act which the US President Donald Trump signed in Dec 2018. The Act seeks to sanction Chinese officials responsible for excluding US citizens and others, including diplomats, officials, journalists, researchers, and Americans of Tibetan origin, from visiting Tibet.