Taiwan legislative caucus pushes for visit by Dalai Lama

07/08/2020 07:50 PM
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CNA photo July 8, 2020
CNA photo July 8, 2020

Taipei, July 8 (CNA) Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said Wednesday that he has revived the Taiwan Parliament Group for Tibet and is urging the government to unequivocally support the idea of a visit by the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

At a press conference, Lim said 46 lawmakers across party lines had joined the legislative group, which is seeking to strengthen ties between the Tibetan and Taiwanese people, provide support for Tibetans living in Taiwan, and work with international human rights groups to advance the Tibetan cause.

Lin also called on Taiwan's government to make a clear statement in support of a visit by the Dalai Lama.

On Sunday, the day before the Dalai Lama's 85th birthday, he said in a video message to his supporters in Taiwan that he would like to visit them again.

He visited Taiwan in 1997, 2001 and 2009 but has not done so since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first took office in 2016.

On Monday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the government had not received an application for the Dalai Lama to visit the country, but would welcome him "at a time convenient for both sides."

At Wednesday's press conference, however, Lim said the Taiwan government should be more explicitly welcoming.

"Given the geopolitical situation over the past few years, the government should be even more firm in its support for human rights," Lim said.

"We should welcome the Dalai Lama any time it is convenient for him to visit Taiwan."

In an interview after the press conference, Dawa Tsering (達瓦才仁), chairman of the Taipei-based Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, confirmed that the Dalai Lama was interested in visiting the country but would understand if Taiwan was facing pressure from China or thought such a visit would be damaging to its interests.

Other lawmakers in the revived Taiwan Parliament Group for Tibet, which was first formed in 2016, include Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳), Hung Sun-han (洪申翰) and Fan Yun (范雲) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party, and Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) of the New Power Party.

(By Chen Chun-hua and Matthew Mazzetta)

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