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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Q+A - China's response to Dalai Lama's Taiwan visit

September 1, 2009

August 31, 2009

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China has denounced the
Dalai Lama's trip to Taiwan, saying on Monday the
visit by a man Beijing brands a separatist could
have a "negative influence" on relations.

Last week, China lashed out at the Dalai Lama and
Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive
Party (DPP) after the DPP invited the Tibetan
spiritual leader to visit the island.


A visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama brings into
sharp focus two of China's most sensitive
territorial claims, over Taiwan and Tibet, and thus strikes a raw nerve.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that
must eventually be reunified with the mainland,
by force if necessary. The island, a former
colony of Japan, came under the rule of

Nationalist or Kuomintang (KMT) forces when they
retreated there in 1949 as the Communists took over the mainland.

Taiwan has been under KMT rule since, except
between 2000 and 2008 when the
independence-leaning DPP won presidential elections twice in a row.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959, following a
failed uprising against Chinese rule. Since then,
he has campaigned for self-determination for his
homeland, seeking the high-level autonomy for
Tibet that Chinese law claims to bestow.

Beijing says his demands amount to a campaign for independence.


In addition to angry words, China might curtail
some meetings between officials.

But the wording of its protest indicates it is
likely to avoid directly denouncing President Ma
Ying-jeou or the ruling KMT, with whom it is
trying to build better relations with an eye to eventual reunification.

China also has to avoid making threats that raise
expectations among its own people, especially the
more vociferous nationalists, that it might take action to stop the visit.

So far it has reserved its ire for the opposition
DPP, which invited the Dalai Lama and generally
follows a more anti-China stance.

The DPP's constituency is largely the Taiwanese,
especiallyin Taiwan's south, whose presence on
the island dates from before 1949 and therefore
have little loyalty to mainland China.



Past behaviour indicates that China is unlikely
to take steps that could directly damage trade and investment flows.

On Monday, both sides, launched their first
regular scheduled direct flights, indicating that
China would like to keep business separate from politics.

China, including Hong Kong, is Taiwan's largest
trading partner with trade on both sides
totalling about $130 billion in 2008, official data from Taiwan showed.

China, with its 1.3 billion population, is also
Taiwan's favourite investment destination with
Taiwanese companies investing more than $100
billion there, private estimates showed.

With China's own export-oriented economy fragile,
it is unlikely to do anything to damage
investments by the many Taiwanese whose capital
has fuelled mainland growth for three decades.
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