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Taiwan to bar visit by Uighur activist

September 26, 2009

(AP) - September 25, 2009

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's interior minister said Friday the island will bar
a visit by Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, whom Beijing has accused of
inciting ethnic violence in China's far west.

The decision was made "in consideration of our national interests," Chiang
Yi-hua said.

A visit by Kadeer, who lives in the U.S., could harm the recently warming
relations between Taiwan and China, which split amid civil war in 1949.
President Ma Ying-jeou has dramatically improved ties with China since
taking office 16 months ago with a promise to reverse his predecessor's
anti-China, pro-independence policies.

China has accused Kadeer of being behind ethnic violence in July in the
western Xinjiang region that left nearly 200 people dead according to
official count, a charge she has denied. Uighurs are a minority Muslim group
native to western China whose relations with China's Han majority have
become increasingly tense in recent years.

Kadeer is a prominent businesswoman who has been active in promoting Uighur
rights since the late 1990s. Chinese authorities imprisoned her for her
activities, and she was exiled to the United States in 2005.

Beijing had warned of unspecified "trouble" for bilateral relations if
Taiwan's second largest city of Kaohsiung insisted on showing a documentary
about Kadeer at a film festival next month.

During a tour of the United States this week, Taiwanese rock musician
Freddie Lim invited Kadeer to visit Taiwan. Kadeer accepted the invitation
and said she would like to "introduce the true situation about my people to
the Taiwanese people."

Earlier this month, President Ma risked China's ire by allowing Tibetan
spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit the island to console typhoon
survivors.

Beijing has branded both the Dalai Lama and Kadeer as separatists for
allegedly seeking independence for Tibet and Xinjiang.

Ma approved the Dalai Lama's visit to avoid giving ammunition to Taiwan's
pro-independence opposition, which has accused him of hewing to Beijing's
line.

He eased China's anger by refusing to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader.
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