China Furious over Dalai Lama’s Proposed Visit to Taiwan

Following grant of visa to the Dalai Lama by Taiwan for visiting the island next week to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot, China has reacted sharply, resolutely opposing the decision alleging that any such visit by a man Beijing brands a separatist threatened to “sabotage” improving relations.

“The Dalai Lama is not a pure religious figure,” said a government spokesman in Beijing. “Under the pretext of religion, he has all along been engaged in separatist activities.”

A self-ruled island claimed by Beijing, Taiwan approved the visit by the Nobel Peace laureate to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.

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

“Some of the people in the Democratic Progressive Party use the disaster rescue excuse to invite Dalai to Taiwan to sabotage the hard-earned positive situation of cross-straits relations.”

The visit could worsen relationships of Taiwan with mainland China which had shown marked improvement in past 15 months following the election of a more pro-Beijing government.

It should be noted that China, which describes Dalai Lama as a separatist leader, has a history of angry diplomatic reactions against any country that hosts Tibet’s leader-in-exile.

President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan, who refused the Dalai Lama a visa last year for fear of souring improving ties with Beijing, said that his government had agreed to allow the visit to enable the Dalai Lama “to pray for the souls of the deceased and seek blessings for the survivors of the typhoon.”

Almost 700 people died in the disaster after the typhoon triggered a series of mudslides earlier this month.

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