Mongolia has asked for “clear support” from India against a transport-obstruction imposed by China.

After Ulan Bator hosted the Dalai Lama in November, China has hiked tariffs on Mongolian trucks passing through Chinese territory, the Mongolian envoy said on Tuesday.

“India should come out with clear support against the difficulties that have been imposed on us by China, which is an overreaction to the religious visit by His Holiness Dalai Lama. We have not changed our ‘One China’ policy, so Beijing’s response to Mongolia hosting the spiritual leader is really not justifiable,” said Ambassador Gonchig Ganbold.

He said Mongolian vehicles were being arbitrarily charged for over-land transit and China’s province of Inner Mongolia had begun to charge trucks carrying minerals a provincial tariff.

“With winter temperature already around minus-20 degrees, transport obstruction by China is likely to create a humanitarian crisis in the country, as these measures will hurt the flow of essential commodities,” he said.

Transit Obstacles

Mr.  Ganbold, China’s Foreign ministry spokesperson said Mongolia at present was dependent on Russian transit  rights. “The transit obstructions have imposed a kind  blockade-like situation which will take toll on our enemy and society”

India’s response

Assuring Mongolia that India is sympathetic to the problems being faced by it, Delhi has said it will help the country utilize the $1 billion financial assistance offered in 2015 to tide over the economic sanctions imposed on Ulan Bator by China in retaliation for inviting Dalai Lama.

Answering questions, the MEA spokesperson said: “We are ready to work with Mongolian people in this time of their difficulty. During the visit of the PM to Mongolia in May 2015, he had conveyed to the Mongolian leadership that India will extend support in diverse fields. We had announced a credit line of US$ 1 billion. We are closely working with the Mongolian government to implement the credit line in a manner that is deemed beneficial to the Mongolian people by its leadership”.

However, India is careful to steer clear of the Mongolia-China spat, mentioning that Mongolia’s crisis owes as much to its debt-servicing problems as to other factors. “We have a long spiritual relationship with India,” Gonchig Ganbold, Mongolia’s ambassador.

“Its important India raises its voice against China’s unilateral measures which are hurting our people, specially when severe winter is upon us.” Silence, he said, could be construed as giving China a “pass” for its behavior.

Trucks crossing into China’s autonomous province of Inner Mongolia are now charged 10 yuan each, and 0.1% of the worth of the cargo if it is beyond 10,000 yuan. China’s actions hold unhappy portends for China’s One-Belt-One-Road policy, if countries on its periphery can be arbitrarily subjected to sanctions.

Mongolia has a long history of defying the Chinese system, despite them being so dependent on Beijing for transit. But China is more able to enforce its views on Mongolia now, as a superpower. Russia is unlikely to be of much help because Moscow does not at present feel the need to disagree with Beijing.

India has always stood with Mongolia and so will it this time.

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