State-run media in China on Friday warned Mongolia against seeking financial assistance from India to overcome a recession caused by several factors, including the imposition of border tariffs by Beijing. An editorial in the Global Times said it was “politically harebrained” for the landlocked country to ask for support from Delhi as the move would complicate its bilateral ties with Beijing.

The editorial claimed that while Ulaanbaatar had vowed to remain a neutral country, it was hoping to seek help from a “third neighbour”, which would “enable the country to reap more profits by gaining more bargaining chips”. “Mongolia seems naive about the way international relations work – you cannot harm a country’s interests while hoping it can reciprocate nicely,” the editorial said.

Beijing indefinitely had suspended talks with Mongolia about a loan package after the Dalai Lama visited the country in November, the piece said, even as it noted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry had not confirmed whether the move was decided upon because of the Tibetan leader’s visit. “In China’s narrative, he [the Dalai Lama] is much more a separatist figure than a religious figure. Receiving him implies endorsement of his deeds, which is highly disapproved of in both government and public discourses in China.”

China had protested the Dalai Lama’s visit, with its Foreign Ministry calling him a “political exile” who was attempting to alienate Tibet from the country. A spokesperson for the ministry had asked Mongolia to maintain “the general picture of a sound and steady development of bilateral ties [and] earnestly stick to its commitment on Tibet-related issues”.

Meanwhile, Ulaanbaatar has also cultivated close ties with India over the past few years. In May 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $1 billion (Rs 6,754.50 crore approximately) line of credit to boost the country’s economy. “Mongolia is also an integral part of India’s Act East policy,” Modi had said.