(TibetanReview.net, Jul07’20) – Taiwan has said Jul 6 that it would welcome a visit by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as Tibetans and his other devotees across the world marked his 85th birthday with prayers and charity events.
The Dalai Lama last visited self-ruled Taiwan in Aug-Sep 2009 to comfort the victims of Typhoon Morakot. Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) was the president at that time.
The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry’s suggestion to welcome the Dalai Lama came after the latter said in a birthday message via video link to supporters in Taiwan on Jul 5 that he would like to visit the island again.
“As the political scenario changes, it may be that I’ll be able to visit you in Taiwan again. I hope so. Whatever happens I’ll remain with you in spirit,” he said on his website.
Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou has said that while the government had not yet received an application for him to travel to the island, it would handle it under “relevant rules” if one came.
“We will, in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and at a time of convenience for both sides, welcome the Dalai Lama to come to Taiwan again to propagate Buddhist teachings,” Reuters Jul 6 quoted Ou as saying.
Beijing is deeply suspicious of Taiwan’s current president Tsai Ing-wen, who first took office in 2016 and recently won her reelection, believing she wishes to push for the island’s formal independence. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has vowed to take it back. However, Tsai, who belongs to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, says Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of being a “splittist” despite his decades-long policy of seeking genuine or meaningful autonomy for his Tibetan homeland, something which has long been guaranteed by the Chinese constitution but implemented only in name thus far.