DPP politicians in hard-hit southern Taiwan have invited the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan, as Bloomberg reports:
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, whose popularity has plummeted over his response to the deadliest storm in five decades, faces a new challenge after opposition politicians invited the Dalai Lama to visit typhoon- hit areas.The DL is widely revered in Taiwan and his previous visits packed stadiums. The DPP has a cordial relationship with the Tibetan freedom movement as well (blogged here). President Ma, as the Bloomberg piece notes, previously indicated that the "time was not right" for a DL visit. From a previous post:
Local government politicians in the opposition-controlled areas worst affected by Typhoon Morakot said they plan to invite the Tibetan spiritual leader to bless the land and people, Sunny Jien, spokeswoman for the Kaohsiung city government, said today.
Wondrously, President Ma made this announcement even though the Dalai Lama hasn't actually asked to come here....A tour of the south is likely to bring the DL into contact with Master Hsing Yun, the aging pro-annexationist, pro-KMT monk who runs Foguangshan, the massive temple complex between Kaohsiung and Pingtung (most recent post) near some of the affected areas. Indeed, with so many of Taiwan's Buddhist temples and organizations openly pro-KMT, the politics of this visit, should it come off, will be fun to watch.Since the question was hypothetical — the Dalai Lama hasn’t applied for permission to visit — Ma could have avoided controversy by simply pointing this out. Instead, he chose to say the Tibetan spiritual leader would not be welcome. His statement was clearly aimed at currying favor with China. Even if such a visit had been in the cards, Ma could have stressed that it was purely for religious reasons, and that he would not meet the monk. Instead, Ma caved in completely.Fortunately, KMT legislative speaker and Ma rival Wang Jin-pyng, always happy to stand on Ma's shoulders when he is drowning, has suggested that local religious organizations invite the Dalai Lama to Taiwan in his capacity as a religious leader. The Chen Administration made great strides in cultivating ties with Tibet, (blogged here), and succeeding in bringing the Dalai Lama to Taiwan several years ago, to great public acclaim.
From a media standpoint the piece is rather interesting. On one hand, it conventionally presents the "thaw" in relations between "Taiwan" and "China" (not the KMT and the CPP) as the result of Ma...
Under Ma, relations with China have thawed, with the two sides striking agreements on investment and travel. China views the Dalai Lama, a figurehead of movements to free Tibet, as a divisive force....with Beijing as the passive recipient of Ma's actions, rather than the "thaw" actually resulting from Beijing's approval of a President who wants to annex Taiwan to China. On the other hand, it actually says that the DL heads up the movement to "free Tibet". It is also an unusually long piece.
Interesting news, and a challenge flung in the face of President Ma Ying-jeou, and more importantly, Beijing. What will China and its allies in Taipei do?
And how will the international media handle this conjuction of the freedom movement in Tibet, which it is sympathetic to, and Taiwan's pro-independence forces, who are (it goes without saying) "radicals" who "provoke" Beijing.
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