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Taiwan opposition marks Tibetan anniversary

March 11, 2009

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
March 10, 2009

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's opposition Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, as the island's Beijing-friendly government remained silent on the sensitive issue.

Commemorations included the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) marking "Tibet Day" in its stronghold of Kaohsiung, where DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-we attended a gathering in support of "Tibet's struggle for freedom."

In Taipei, the DPP jointly sponsored a vigil in memory of Tibetans killed since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950, drawing a small group of Tibetans and their Taiwanese sympathizers.

During its eight years in power, the DPP forged closer ties with the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile, based in Dharamshala, India, until the DPP was ousted by Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang government in May last year.

The DPP criticized Ma's government for refusing to speak out in support of Tibet's exiles, saying this showed it was afraid of Beijing.

"Apparently this is another indication that the Ma Ying-jeou administration is fearful of upsetting Beijing," DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang told AFP.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for Dharamshala in 1959, first visited Taiwan in March 1997 and again in 2001, triggering condemnation from China.

In an interview in Dharamshala last month with a Taiwanese cable news channel, the Dalai Lama repeated his desire to visit Taiwan.

However, Ma said that the timing was not right, citing improved ties between Taipei and Beijing.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, after their split in the civil war that ended in 1949.
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