Dalai Lama hopes to visit Taiwan next year 'if Beijing allows'

09/10/2020 04:33 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

New Delhi, Sept. 9 (CNA) The exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, said on Sunday that he is hoping to visit Taiwan next year "if Beijing allows."

He made the comments in India at the end of a three-day televised Buddhism teaching session on Sunday to a group of Asian followers.

Near the end of the lecture, a moderator thanked His Holiness for his teaching, while expressing hope that it will be possible to visit him again soon.

In response, the Dalai Lama pointed out that at present, he cannot travel aboard because of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he hopes that next year it will be possible again.

There is a possibility that he might be able to visit Singapore for two days sometime next year and go on from there to Taiwan, where people have invited him too "if Beijing, the People's Republic of China, allows me to visit Taiwan," he said.

The Dalai Lama previously visited Taiwan in 1997, 2001 and 2009, but has not done so since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) first took office in 2016.

Beijing has taken a hardline stance on cross-strait relations since Tsai refused as president to accept the "1992 consensus," a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-Kuomintang (KMT) government of Taiwan and the Chinese government.

Under the consensus, both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what "China" means, according to the KMT interpretation. Beijing, however, has never publicly recognized the second part of that interpretation.

Asked to comment on the possible trip, a senior official of the Central Tibetan Administration, which represents the Tibetan government-in-exile, told CNA under the condition of anonymity that the Dalai Lama has always expressed his willingness to visit Taiwan whenever he was asked about the issue.

But whether a trip to Taiwan will actually take place depends on a number of factors, and currently there are no signs that the Dalai Lama will be able to visit Taiwan next year, the senior official said.

Meanwhile, asked about a possible visit by the Dalai Lama, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said Thursday that Taiwan would welcome such a visit to be made by the internationally renowned spiritual leader who has many followers in Taiwan.

Ou, however, said the government had not received an application for him to visit the country and given the ongoing pandemic that makes cross-border travel difficult, the government would welcome him to visit "at a time convenient for both sides."

(By Charles Kang and Joseph Yeh)

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