Beijing, Feb 19 (PTI) In a bid to improve ties with China, Switzerland has “revised” its immigration policy for Tibetan refugees, asking them to change their nationality to Chinese, state media here reported today.

The “Tibetans-in-exile” community in Switzerland has found it more difficult to obtain an official identification of Tibetan refugee since Berne revised its immigration policy and asked those Tibetans to change their nationality to Chinese in July 2016, an article on the website of Global Times said.

The report quoted Swiss media as saying that the approval rate for asylum seekers from Tibet fell to 50.2 per cent by the end of November last year, while the rate in 2015 ranged between 65-85 per cent.

Switzerland, for a long time, has allowed Tibetans to identify themselves as the citizens of “Tibet” or “Stateless”.

According to the report, Switzerland has more than 4,000 Tibetans, the largest “Tibetans-in-exile” group in Europe, and is a major base for Tibetan separatists in the continent.

As a small European nation, Switzerland has a high profile as human rights advocate and accepted some “Tibetans-in-exile” since China took control of Tibet in 1951, though Tibetan protesters were arrested during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country last month, it said.

The report said, Berne’s denial of recognising the ‘Tibet’ nationality has “no doubt dealt a blow to Tibetan separatists, as well as the so-called ‘government-in-exile’ led by the 14th Dalai Lama.”

It claimed Switzerland’s move is a result of the “positive Sino-Swiss diplomatic cooperation. Berne must have realised it has more to gain from a strong bilateral relationship with Beijing rather than supporting the Tibetan separatists.” “Once Berne learns that it has a common vision with Beijing, it would certainly support China in its pro-globalisation efforts, despite the Tibet question. Western politicians used to play the Dalai Lama card to show off their ideological superiority. But, nowadays, the issue could be used to offset China’s clout in the international community,” it said.

The article said, “apart from toning down the Dalai Lama issues, Beijing should work on finding other solutions while making efforts to better integrate China’s minority groups as the Tibet question wouldn’t vanish upon Dalai Lama’s demise”.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.