Taipei - Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian on Saturday asked the Tibetan government-in-exile to join Taiwan in defying China and invited the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan.
At a seminar on human rights in Tibet, Chen said Tibet is an important symbol of weak forces defying China's tyranny and seeking freedom under China's military threat. It is also a test of how the international community handles human rights, he said.
'Today Tibet and Taiwan face the same destiny, we both face China's threats. Therefore, Taiwan people can feel the hardships suffered by Tibetans, and Taiwan gives firm support and blessings to Tibetans' fight for self-determination,' he said.
'We respect the Dalai Lama's decisions regarding Tibet's future and hope that Taiwan and Tibet can have closer ties and support each other,' he added. 'We hope the Dalai Lama can visit Taiwan to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the Tibetan government- in-exile and Taiwan.'
Taiwan and China split in 1949 when the Republic of China (ROC) lost the Chinese Civil War to the Communists and fled to Taiwan. China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province, while Taiwan, formally called ROC, considers itself a sovereign country recognized by 24 countries.
The Dalai Lama fled India in 1959 after an abortive rebellion against Chinese troops and set up his government-in-exile in Dharamsala, north India.
The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner visited Taiwan in 1997 and 2001 and opened a representative office in Taipei in 2001.
Taiwan has invited the Dalai Lama to make his third visit to Taiwan, but the Dalai Lama has turned down the invitations so as not to anger China and hurt his peace talks with Beijing.