Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 3 News List

China's reaction not easy to call: MAC

DALAI LAMA DING-DONGThe Mainland Affairs Council said changes in cross-strait relations were not the only way to judge Beijing’s reaction to the monk’s visit

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Beijing’s retaliation for the government’s approval of the visit of the Dalai Lama may not be as simple as suspending cross-strait exchanges, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said the public must not simply look at the changes to cross-strait exchanges to judge the impact of the Buddhist leader’s visit because many elements must be factored in.

To suspend cross-strait exchanges was indeed one way for Beijing to express its frustration, Liu said, but the public must look at the whole picture before jumping to any conclusions.

Liu was responding to questions about the possible impact of the visit of the spiritual leader of the Tibetan government in exile. The Dalai Lama is scheduled to leave today.

Li Yafei (李亞飛), assistant minister of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Monday that Beijing’s position on the Dalai Lama’s visit was resolute and that the trip was bound to have an adverse effect on cross-strait ties.

Li did not elaborate, adding that Beijing would continue to monitor developments during the visit.

On the same day the Dalai Lama arrived, regular cross-strait flights were officially launched, but airlines in both China and Taiwan decided to ditch their inauguration ceremonies and events celebrating the launch of the regular flight services.

China also announced that it would not attend the opening ceremony of the Taipei Deaflympics, which will be held tomorrow.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, had been clear about the nature of the visit, which was religious and humanitarian, Liu said. So far, the visit seemed to meet those objectives, he said, adding that he hoped Beijing would notice this.

“We hope his visit will not have any negative impact on cross-strait relations,” Liu said. “We really don’t know whether it will, but we will continue to watch developments closely.”

Meanwhile, Tourism Bureau Director General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said yesterday the visit of the Dalai Lama had caused some tour groups from China to cancel their scheduled trips.

Lai said the secretary of Jiangsu Province’s Communist Party has yet to confirm a visit next month and that the secretary was planning to bring approximately 2,000 staff and tourists.

“We have no idea if the group is still planning to come,” Lai said.

The bureau had also planned a visit from a group of Chinese travel agents to scout potential travel routes, however it has been postponed.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHELLEY SHAN

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