CHINA has warned Taiwan’s new government against allowing exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit, amid worsening ties between the island state and Beijing.
A report by Xinhua quoting a Chinese mainland official said permitting the leader into Taiwan would ultimately put a greater strain on relations.
“The intention of some forces in Taiwan to collude with separatists seeking ‘Tibet independence,’ and to create disturbances will have a severe impact on relations across the Taiwan Strait.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) September 14, 2016
“We firmly oppose the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan of any form,” Ma Xiaoguang from China’s Taiwan Affairs was quoted saying at a press conference.
China sees the Dalai Lama as a separatist but according to Freddy Lim, a famous Taiwanese heavy metal singer who was last year elected to Parliament, the 80-year-old monk is highly-revered in the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.
“Lim is inviting him to visit Taiwan to share his ideas and religious philosophy,” Kenny Chang, an aide to Lim, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Taiwan’s former president Ma Ying-jeou, who was known to be favorable of ties with Beijing, had reportedly refused the Dalai Lama entry several times during his rule, the news wire wrote.
But Taiwan’s newly-elected President Tsai Ing-wen who came to power in January has so far not indicated if he would continue the policy.
According to Focus Taiwan, the Dalai Lama’s last trip to Taiwan was in 2009 under Ma’s rule when he came to pray for survivors and victims of Typhoon Morakot. At the time, Ma did not pay a visit with the spiritual leader.
Last week, when Lim extended the invitation, Taiwan’s Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan appeared to express support for it, saying he backs anyone who will fight for democracy and freedom.
“The Legislative Yuan very much welcomes those who facilitate the promotion of democracy and freedom,” he was quoted as saying.
This week, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister David Lee told lawmakers that the ministry will review the matter carefully, Reuters wrote, quoting Taiwanese media.
Taiwan’s final decision on the matter has not been made immediately clear.
China has continued to claim sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since the Chinese civil war in the 1940s and believes that both sides will one day unify. Most Taiwanese, however, are said to prefer autonomy.
The 14th Dalai Lama began his permanent exile in Dharamsala, in Punjab, in 1959, after the Tibetan uprising against Communist Party rule. He received the Novel Peace Prize in 1989.