Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

French education: Reinventing the idea of school

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Frogs legs and brains? The French food hard to stomach

Read more

#TECH 24

Station F: Putting Paris on the global tech map

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Davos 2017: 'I believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the world'

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the boardroom: French law requires large firms to have 40% women on boards

Read more

FASHION

Men's fashion: Winter 2017/2018 collections shake up gender barriers

Read more

ENCORE!

Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan speaks out about her time behind bars

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Threat of economic crisis still looms in Zimbabwe

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Has the bubble burst?

Read more

Asia-pacific

Dalai Lama pays controversial visit to typhoon victims

Video by Luke Brown and Karim Yahiaoui

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-31

The Dalai Lama steered clear of talking about Tibet during a humanitarian visit to flood-ravaged Taiwan on Monday, but he said he was dedicated to the promotion of democracy. China has lambasted the visit by a man it brands a separatist.

REUTERS - The Dalai Lama, on a controversial humanitarian visit to flood-ravaged Taiwan denounced by China, steered clear of talking about Tibet on Monday but said he was dedicated to the promotion of democracy.


China has lambasted the visit by a man it brands a separatist, but it is considered unlikely to jeopardise growing economic ties between the long-time political rivals, and even on Monday the two sides launched their first regular direct flights in decades.


The Tibetan spiritual leader arrived late on Sunday in self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China since 1949, to comfort victims of the island’s worst typhoon in 50 years which struck this month, triggering floods that killed about 570 people.


“I’m very, very strict, (the trip is of a) non-political nature,” the Dalai Lama told reporters, appearing to try to reassure Beijing.


The 1988 Nobel peace prize winner, after leading prayers at a the site of a giant mudslide at the village of Hsiao Lin, did not mention Tibet but told reporters he was in favour of democracy, a comment apparently aimed at Communist-ruled China.


“We are not seeking separation for Taiwan, but the fate of Taiwan depends on the more than 20 million people. You are enjoying democracy and that you must preserve,” he said. “I myself am totally dedicated to the promotion of democracy.”


As with its denunciation when the visit was announced last week, China focused its criticism on the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, not the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) of China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou.


“The Democratic Progressive Party has ulterior motives to instigate the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan, who has long been engaged in separatist activities,” a spokesman for China’s State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.


“We resolutely oppose this and our position is firm and clear,” the spokesman said. “The Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan is bound to have a negative influence on the relations between the mainland and Taiwan.”


SOVEREIGNTY CLAIM


By not blaming Ma or the KMT, Beijing may have indicated that it does not wish to escalate the dispute in which China’s two most sensitive territorial issues, Tibet and Taiwan, coincide.


A KMT member said the party had sent an official to China to speak to the Taiwan Affairs Office, but he declined to elaborate on the reason.


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


The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.


Some Taiwan residents also protested against the Dalai Lama’s arrival, some taking China’s side on his purported political agenda.


A few pro-China protesters greeted him at the airport on Sunday, jostling with police and shouting for him to “go home”, and about 20 people gathered outside his hotel wearing shirts with a picture of the monk with a cross through it.


“We don’t want the Dalai Lama’s politics,” read one banner. “We want his food and shelter.”


Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a “splittist” who seeks to separate nearly a quarter of the land mass of the People’s Republic of China. The Dalai Lama denies the charge and says he seeks greater rights, including religious freedom and autonomy, for Tibetans.
 

Date created : 2009-08-31

COMMENT(S)