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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Dalai Lama promotes democracy in Taiwan

September 1, 2009

Financial Times
August 31, 2009

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- 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."

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.
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