Fri, May 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Groups demand Dalai Lama invite

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

From left, Taiwanese National Congress organization convener Ted Lau, attorney Jerry Cheng and Taiwan Jury Association office director Lin Ping-chuan yesterday take part in a news conference in Taipei.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Jury Association and political advocates yesterday criticized the government’s failure to invite the Dalai Lama for a visit, while questioning whether President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been stopped by her “fear of China.”

The nation’s previous directly elected presidents have all invited the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit except for Tsai, who has been in office for three years, association founder Jerry Cheng (鄭文龍) told a news conference in Taipei.

“Why can the Dalai Lama not visit Taiwan now? President Tsai, is it because of your cowardice and fear of China?” he asked.

Cheng also requested that other potential presidential candidates clarify their stance on the issue, especially former premier William Lai (賴清德), who is Tsai’s sole challenger for the Democratic Progressive Party’s nomination.

“Lai, if you are elected president next year, would you be willing to invite the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan?” Cheng asked.

He also called for answers to the question from “pro-China” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential hopefuls Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫).

“On the world stage, Taiwan does not often receive focused media attention, but we can put more effort into human rights and other important international issues by forging a stronger alliance with Tibet and the Uighur people of East Turkestan,” Cheng said. “Through these endeavors, Taiwan is also linked with North American and European nations.”

“These can create greater visibility for us and highlight the fact that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country,” Cheng added.

The Dalai Lama visited Taiwan in 1997, 2001 and 2009 during the presidencies of Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Other association members urged the government to issue the invitation quickly, as the Dalai Lama is growing older and has been less able to undertake long journeys.

Lawmakers in March joined the Tibetan community and organizations in launching a petition to ask the government to issue the Dalai Lama a formal invitation.

Taiwanese National Congress convener Ted Lau (劉重義) said that most Taiwanese have a distorted view of Tibetan history from the former KMT educational system and Beijing.

“Tibet was never a part of China and the Republic of China [ROC] never had administrative power over Tibet,” Lau said. “Therefore, Tsai as our nation’s leader should announce to the world that Tibet, and also Mongolia, are not territories of the ROC.”

“However, Tsai after assuming office has been afflicted with fear of China,” Lau added. “We hope that Lai would take a strong stance and make this clear to the world.”

Dawa Tsering, top envoy for the exiled Tibetan government in Taiwan, in March said that the Dalai Lama has expressed the desire to visit Taiwan again, but it would be up to the government to decide.

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