News and Views on Tibet

Dalai Lama congratulates Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te

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By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, May 21: Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has congratulated Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, who was sworn in as the president of the democratic island nation on Monday. This congratulatory message follows an earlier one from January 14, when the exiled spiritual leader celebrated Lai’s victory in the presidential election, marking an unprecedented third term for his party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

In his statement, the Dalai Lama expressed his admiration for the Taiwanese people’s determination to uphold democratic values, stating, “It is wonderful to see how firmly rooted democracy has become in Taiwan. The Taiwanese people have not only developed a flourishing, robust democracy, but have also achieved great prosperity, while at the same time preserving their rich cultural traditions.”

The octogenarian leader also wished Lai success in addressing the challenges and aspirations of the Taiwanese people. “May I wish you every success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of Taiwan,” he wrote. 

Lai Ching-te officially sworn in as Taiwan’s new president on Monday, succeeding Tsai Ing-wen. The inauguration ceremony, attended by 508 dignitaries, included representatives from the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Among the dignitaries were Norzin Dolma, Minister of the Department of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Secretary Karma Choeying, Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Dolma Tsering Teykhang, Member of Parliament Ven. Tenpa Yarphel and Kalsang Gyalsten Bawa, the Representative of the Office of Tibet in Taiwan.

The presence of these CTA officials at the ceremony was seen by many as a clear gesture of support for the Tibetan Government-in-Exile by Taiwan. Observers noted that this invitation symbolised solidarity and mutual recognition between Taiwan and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, especially given that the latter is not recognised by China and is labelled a “separatist” entity.

In his inauguration speech, Lai emphasised the need for China to cease its military intimidation. “ I hope that China will face the reality of Taiwan’s existence, respect the choices of the people of Taiwan, and in good faith, choose dialogue over confrontation,” he stated. Lai stressed that “peace is the only option,” adding, “I also want to call on China to cease their political and military intimidation against Taiwan, share with Taiwan the global responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as well as the greater region, and ensure that the world is free from the fear of war.” 

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