More than 100 pro-unification supporters protested in front of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in Taipei yesterday over the Dalai Lama＊s visit, but the party seemed unfazed.
The leader of the Tibetan exiled government is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan tonight to commence his six-day prayer tour for the victims of Typhoon Morakot. The Dalai Lama was invited by local government chiefs in southern Taiwan to comfort and pray for the typhoon victims in areas that were hardest hit by the storm from Aug. 7 to Aug. 9.
China has strongly denounced the trip but rather than laying the blame on President Ma Ying-jeou (堜褙朐), who gave the final approval for the visit, Beijing accused the DPP of sabotaging warming cross-strait ties by inviting someone China brands as a ※separatist.§
Led by Labor Party 〝Secretary-General Tang Shu (衄觤), the protesters accused the DPP of exploiting the victims for political gain and said the presence of the Dalai Lama in Taiwan damages the growing amity between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The protesters, however, had an empty audience because all the major DPP officials, including Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (齍褙湞), were not there.
Police gave the angry crowd multiple warnings to break up the illegal assembly. Officers linked arms to form a human wall to prevent the protesters from entering the building.
※We have no comment on their action, which is obviously a political gesture. We don＊t know who they＊re putting a show on for, but the public is quite clear what the Labor Party is all about and we feel it is unnecessary to elaborate,§ DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (濷湞騞) said.
Cheng said Taiwan is a multi-dimensional society with various opinions and that the one held by the Labor Party is not representative of the Taiwanese public.
China＊s State Administration for Religious Affairs director Ye Xiaowen (蝔幙湞) is currently visiting Taiwan. Asked to comment on the Tibetan spiritual leader＊s visit, he said that ※anyone who truly wanted to come to Taiwan and care for the victims is welcome,§ but added: ※What I fear most is that someone would come here just for show and make more trouble for Taiwan.§
※I don＊t want Taiwan to get hit by a human disaster right after a natural disaster,§ he said.
In response to Ye＊s remark, the Dalai Lama＊s representative, Dawa Tsering, said he believes most Taiwanese would not consider the Dalai Lama a ※human disaster.§
※The real human disasters that frighten the Taiwanese are China＊s missiles, violence, authoritarianism and threats to take Taiwan by force, not the compassion of the Dalai Lama and his sincerity to pray for the victims and for survivors,§ Dawa said.
During his visit to Taiwan, the Dalai Lama will tour areas devastated by Typhoon Morakot, hold a religious service for the victims and speak to the public, according to a tentative schedule released by the Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the de facto representative office of the Tibetan government in exile in Taiwan.
While the Dalai Lama is scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow before visiting disaster areas, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported yesterday that the press conference may be canceled to keep the visit ※simple.§
※A senior KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] official told [Kaohsiung Mayor] Chen Chu [蠊玾] it was impossible to predict what questions may be raised during the press conference and how the Dalai Lama may respond to the questions, and thus make the purpose of the trip ＆go the other way,＊§ the United Evening News quoted an unnamed senior KMT official as saying.
The report said the KMT official suggested making the ※religious visit as simple as possible§ and thus suggested canceling the press conference.
However, both the representative office and Kaohsiung City Government officials denied the report, but added that they were in the process of creating a final itinerary. The meeting was still in progress as of press time.
Chen yesterday said she would be at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to welcome the Tibetan spiritual leader on behalf of her city.
If possible, she would accompany the Dalai Lama on his trip to Kaohsiung City by high-speed rail, she added.
Chen also thanked to Ma for approving the visit, saying that the invitation to the Dalai Lama was based on humanitarian grounds.
※There are still hundreds of fellow citizens buried under the mud. I am grateful to President Ma for agreeing to the visit by the Dalai Lama,§ Chen said.
Chen dismissed allegations that inviting Dalai Lama was s political plot.
※The Aug. 8 flooding was a calamity for Taiwan. Members of religious communities all expressed their sympathies and that was beyond partisan politics. I hope more people will give Taiwan blessings,§ she said.
Meanwhile, in contrast to Ma Ying-jeou and Vice President Vincent Siew (慬媬薞), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (魦旄讔) said yesterday that he would not shut himself out of events where he might run into the Dalai Lama.
※[I will] not reject meeting with [the Dalai Lama]. It all depends on chance,§ Wang said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHU PEIHSIUNG,TUNGCHEN-KUO AND HSIEH WEN-HUA
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