Taiwan approves visit by Dalai Lama

Taiwan has approved a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader next week to comfort victims of a deadly typhoon

Taiwan approves visit by Dalai Lama

Taiwan, which turned away the Dalai Lama last year on fears of upsetting China, has approved a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader next week to comfort victims of a deadly typhoon, the government said on Thursday.

Beijing brands the India-based Tibetan luminary as a separatist and condemns his trips abroad. Thus far it has had no official comment on news of the Taiwan visit.

However, regardless of what its official statements turn out to be, the Chinese government may be unlikely to retaliate with any steps that could choke off growing bilateral trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

Chinese public opinion is easily riled by shows of support for the Dalai Lama, but Beijing is also aware any strong moves could play into the hands of Taiwan opponents of President Ma Ying-jeou, who has sought to ease tensions with Beijing.

"We've ... decided to let the Dalai Lama visit as he is coming here to pray for the dead victims, as well as the survivors," Ma told reporters while visiting typhoon survivors.

The president's office, under fire for perceptions his response to typhoon Morakot was too slow, and national security officials decided in a meeting on Wednesday to permit a visit from Aug. 31-Sept. 3, the Government Information Office said.

"President Ma has done the right thing after a long, long time," said Khedroob Thondup, a Taipei-based member of the Tibetan parliament in exile.

"Little damage"

The Dalai Lama was always eager to visit Taiwan and is looking forward to the trip, his aide told Reuters from the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

"The main purpose for the visit is to comfort the typhoon victims and offer prayers," Tenzin Taklha said on Thursday.

"Immediately after the typhoon (the Dalai Lama) sent a letter of condolence and expressed his sympathy and sorrow." Taklha said he was hopeful the visit would occur soon, though he said no dates have been finalised.

Taiwan, home to a large exiled Tibetan community and millions of Buddhists, allowed visits by the Dalai Lama in 1997 and 2001.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT fled to Taiwan. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

The 73-year-old Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in the region, occupied by People's Liberation Army troops in 1950.

The Dalai Lama's visit might irritate Beijing but the storm will blow over, said ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General Wu Den-yih.

"Beijing will be a little uncomfortable, but if they understand how severe the disaster is they will show some respect to Taiwan's people," ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General Wu Den-yih told Reuters.


Last Mod: 27 Ağustos 2009, 13:39
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