The Dalai Lama's planned visit to Mongolia this month has been cancelled under pressure from China, according to several sources knowledgeable about Tibetan Buddhist affairs.
With President Xi Jinping due to pay a two-day state visit to Mongolia from today, the cancellation is believed to result from China's effective use of economic leverage on its landlocked neighbour, whose economy is highly dependent on China as an export market for mineral exports and as a source of investment.
The sources said Tibetan Buddhist circles began planning early this year for the Dalai Lama to visit Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, in August to preside over a large-scale public Kalachakra, or tantric initiation, like one he held there in August 1995 that attracted 30,000 followers.
The Dalai Lama is enormously popular in Mongolia, where a majority of the population is Tibetan Buddhist. He has made eight visits there since his first in 1979, despite objections from China.
The sources said preparations for his ninth visit were suspended after a plan for China's leader to visit Mongolia the same month emerged and began to take shape.
The Mongolian Foreign Ministry has not commented on the Dalai Lama's planned visit, except to say visits by religious leaders have nothing to do with the work of government.
But multiple sources said the government, under pressure from China, asked Tibetan Buddhist circles to cancel the planned events.
The religious leader, who fled his homeland following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and has since been based with his followers in northern India, insists he seeks genuine autonomy, not independence, for Tibetans.