His Holiness the Dalai Lama blesses survivors of Shiao Lin, the village hardest-hit by massive mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009, in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan. (Photo/AP/Chiang Ying-ying)
DHARAMSHALA, December 6: Following Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affair’s recent decision to refuse a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country’s Internal Administration Committee on Thursday passed a resolution to invite the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Taiwan.
Proposing the resolution, a legislator from Democratic Progressive Party, the country’s principle opposition party, said the Dalai Lama is a “very respected religious leader” and refusing him a visa “harms Taiwan’s reputation as a democracy.”
The strong worded resolution had to be watered down after legislators from the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) opposed parts of the tabled resolution, which condemns the Chinese government’s repression of the Tibetan independence movement and says the Dalai Lama is welcome to visit Taiwan “at any time, under any status, through any means.”
The final version of the resolution which was unanimously passed reads: “The Internal Administration Committee sincerely invites Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan.”
According to reports, the invitation will be formally sent only after the resolution passes a third reading in the legislature.
Last month, Taiwan refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, who was invited to give a keynote speech at the 2012 Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women in December, citing “professional assessment.”
Acting on the president’s instructions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Dalai Lama “is welcome to travel to Taiwan in due course. However, we need to arrange a more opportune time for his visit.”
DPP leaders accused President Ma Ying-jeou of blocking the Dalai Lama's visit due to pressure from Beijing while the organisers of the visit said the move reflected fear of angering China.
“The denial “was a violation of the mainstream value of an international democratic society and has jeopardized Taiwan’s international image,” Liu Shih-chung, director of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs, said in a press release shortly after the government’s decision.
The Dalai Lama visited Taiwan three times in 1997, 2001 and 2009.
The Tibetan spiritual leader last visited southern Taiwan at the invitation of seven DPP mayors and commissioners one month after Typhoon Morakot devastated parts of the south in August 2009, killing about 700 people and causing widespread damage.
Earlier this year in March, a national political party in Taiwan demanded President Ma to suspend all religious exchanges with China until Beijing stops its “oppression” on Tibetan monks and nuns.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union, a political party advocating independence for Taiwan, said that the island nation should severe religious ties with mainland China to protest the continued crackdown on religious freedom in Tibetan areas.