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Taiwan officials urge Dalai Lama to keep politics out of visit

[ 2009-08-31 11:46]     字号 [] [] []  
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Taiwan officials said yesterday they hope the Dalai Lama will stay clear of politics during his visit to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.

As the Dalai Lama arrived in the island late yesterday, more than 10 Taiwan political organizations denounced the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for inviting him. They called the move "unethical" and "politically motivated".

Seven Taiwan mayors and county chiefs from the DPP last Wednesday invited the Dalai Lama to join religious activities for victims of the typhoon. Taiwan also allowed the Dalai Lama to visit in 1997 and 2001.

Morakot, the worst typhoon to hit Taiwan in 50 years, has claimed at least 461 lives and left 192 missing and 46 injured, Taiwan's disaster response authorities said.

"We believe the Dalai Lama will have the wisdom to distinguish between religious empathy and political maneuvering," Wu Poh-hsiung, chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), told reporters yesterday.

Wu said he sought input from Beijing about the visit, but he did not give details or say whether Beijing responded.

"Communication between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland has remained smooth to ensure continuity of cross-Straits ties," he said.

Taiwan authorities, including Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou, have said they will not meet the Dalai Lama publicly or privately.

A spokesman for the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Taklha, has denied the visit has any political subtext. "It is a spiritual visit. The purpose is to offer prayers for the victims and to offer comfort and succor to those who have survived," Takhla said on Saturday.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said in a statement last Thursday it "resolutely opposes" the Taiwan visit "in whatever form and capacity".

About 100 members of the Alliance for the Reunification of China, the Labor Rights Association, the Labor Party and other organizations staged a protest outside the DPP headquarters in Taipei on Saturday.

A joint declaration issued by the protesters said the DPP is attempting to take advantage of disaster relief activities and the suffering of residents for its own political interest.

The Dalai Lama has all along been engaged in separatist activities and has been a questionable figure in regard to humanitarian issues, the declaration said.

Analysts, who described the Dalai Lama's visit as political, said that the DPP extended the invitation to the Dalai Lama to put political pressure on Ma.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Taiwan officials urge Dalai Lama to keep politics out of visit

About the broadcaster:

Taiwan officials urge Dalai Lama to keep politics out of visit

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.