Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Taiwan invites Dalai, China fumes

Taiwan invites Dalai, China fumes

Author: Mark McDonald
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 28, 2009

The president of Taiwan said on Thursday that he would allow the Dalai Lama to visit the island next week, a move that China opposes and one that threatens to jeopardize rapidly improving relations between Taipei and Beijing.

"No matter under what form or identity Dalai uses to enter Taiwan, we resolutely oppose this," the China's Taiwan Affairs Bureau said in a statement carried by the Xinhua news agency.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is expected to arrive on Monday for a six-day tour of southern Taiwan, which was ravaged by a typhoon three weeks ago that left at least 650 dead. The invitation to the Dalai Lama was extended by several local government leaders in the south and was seen by analysts in Taiwan as a political maneuver aimed to embarrass President Ma Yingjeou, whose approval ratings have plummeted over what is widely seen as a slow response to the devastating typhoon.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, to which the Kuomintang forces of Chiang Kai-shek fled after the Communist victory in the civil war in 1949. Political unrest in Tibet is a highly sensitive topic for Beijing, and the Chinese government has sharply criticized the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of fomenting independence in the region.

The Dalai Lama's visits to other countries typically draw strong rebukes from China. Beijing withdrew from a EU summit meeting last December when the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and other EU leaders said they planned to meet with the Dalai Lama.

"Beijing, of course, they probably have a different explanation, but for Taiwan, the Dalai Lama is visiting only in his capacity as a religious leader," said David Chen, head of the Liaison and Information Office in Taipei. "He's coming to pray for the victims of the typhoon."

The Taiwanese officials who extended the invitation to the Dalai Lama belong to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which has its traditional base of support in the south and which has promoted formal independence for Taiwan.

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