Taiwan Would Welcome Visit by Tibet’s Dalai Lama, Foreign Ministry Says
2020-07-06

Taiwan would welcome a visit by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday, adding that any invitation would be handled under “relevant rules” if a request to visit is received.

The Dalai Lama is “welcome to come to Taiwan again to propagate the Buddhist teachings,” spokeswoman Joanne Ou said, adding that an application by the Dalai Lama to visit would be handled “in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and at a time of convenience for both sides.”

A visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama would be his first since 2009 and would certainly anger Beijing, which claims self-governing Taiwan as a renegade province and regards the Tibetan spiritual leader as a dangerous separatist intent on splitting Tibet from Chinese rule.

“As the political scenario changes, it may be that I’ll be able to visit you in Taiwan again soon. I hope so,” the Dalai Lama said In a video message sent to supporters in Taiwan on July 6, his birthday, and referring apparently to recent moves by Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen to further distance Taiwan from China.

“Whatever happens, I’ll remain with you in spirit,” the Dalai Lama said.

Greetings and well wishes poured in from around the world on Sunday, the Dalai Lama’s 85th birthday, with Tibetans in Tibet defying Chinese prohibitions on celebrations by offering prayers and posting images of the revered spiritual leader online.

“Many devotees in different parts of Tibet have made ritual offerings of juniper smoke to celebrate the birthday of the Dalai Lama,” a source in Tibet told RFA’s Tibet Service, adding that other Tibetans have gone online to post images of the Buddhist deity of compassion, Chenresig, with whom the Dalai Lama is identified.

Western politicians and foreign dignitaries including former U.S. President George Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Nobel laureates, and European politicians meanwhile sent video messages voicing admiration and support.

“The esteem in which you are held by the people of the United States is a demonstration of the deep and enduring affinity between Americans and Tibetans,” said U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Ian Juster in a statement at celebrations held in Dharamsala, India, by Tibet’s government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration.

“I believe the warm feelings between Americans and Tibetans spring in part from the recognition that yours is a just and noble struggle—a struggle to secure for your people the same self-evident and unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our Founding Fathers enshrined in the Declaration of Independence,” Juster said.

Regarded by Chinese leaders as a dangerous separatist, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 Tibetan national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan country in 1950.

Displays by Tibetans of the Dalai Lama’s photo, public celebrations of his birthday, and the sharing of his teachings on mobile phones or other social medial are often harshly punished.

Chinese authorities meanwhile maintain a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated regions of western China, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identities, and subjecting Tibetans to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.