Taiwan’s plans to invite Dalai Lama riles China

China on Monday strongly opposed any invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory, and said that the Tibetan spiritual leader must give up his “secessionist” stance.

“We strongly oppose anyone who is in power [in Taiwan] to invite the Dalai Lama to visit the island,” Padma Choling, chairman of the standing committee of Tibet’s regional People’s Congress told media here on the sidelines of the parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“Everyone clearly knows what kind of person the Dalai Lama is,” he said, replying to a question from a foreign reporter about the intention of some political figures in Taiwan to invite the Dalai Lama to the island.

“The Dalai Lama must give up his secessionist stance and stop all activities to split the motherland. Our attitude is consistent,” Mr. Padma, also a deputy to the NPC said.

Dalai Lama in this file photo.

According to reports, Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen is considering inviting the highest-ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism to visit in his capacity as a religious leader.

Mr. Choling’s comments came in the backdrop of President Xi Jinping warning against “Taiwan independence”, saying that “national secession” should not be repeated.

“We will resolutely contain ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist activities in any form,” Mr. Xi had told lawmakers last week.

“We will safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and never allow the historical tragedy of national secession to happen again,” Mr. Xi said.

China regards Taiwan which broke away from the mainland in 1949 as part of it and insists on all other countries which have diplomatic relations with it to follow One China policy.

While China routinely opposes the Dalai Lama’s visit to different countries, his proposed visit to Taiwan comes in the midst of present political tensions arising after the election of the new President, who defeated Eric Chu, candidate of the Kuomintang (KMT), which advocated improvement of ties with Beijing.

“Our policy toward Taiwan is clear and consistent, and it will not change along with the change in Taiwan’s political situation,” Mr. Xi had said.

China regards the 80-year-old head of Tibetan Buddhism, who fled to India in 1959, as a separatist.

Despite being in exile for about 57 years the Dalai Lama remains most revered Buddhist spiritual head in Tibet.