[CND, 04/06/00] A mainland official denounced the possible visit of the Dalai Lama to Taiwan in May, according to a Wednesday Reuters report. In an official mainland reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman SUN Yuxi said, "The Dalai Lama has long been engaged in activities here and there for the purpose of splitting the motherland." Mr. Sun also said, "We are opposed to any kind of political activities by any person to split the motherland and undermine national unity."
These comments came after a Monday report in the Taiwanese newspaper, Liberty Times, saying that the Tibetan spiritual leader may make a second visit to Taiwan. This report included the comments of Sonam Topgyal, a top official from Tibet's government-in-exile, who said that the Dalai Lama would attend religious activities in Taiwan.
Beijing is certainly more concerned with the fact that the visit provides the Dalai Lama with an opportunity to meet CHEN Shui-bian, the new president-elect of Taiwan. The timing of the visit coincides with Chen's inauguration on May 20.
Mr. Chen's party, the Democratic Progressive Party, has taken a strong stance on independence in the past, although Chen has been careful not to antagonize the mainland on this issue. Beijing has warned Taiwan against independence, threatening invasion if it did.
The Dalai Lama's first visit to Taiwan was in 1997. This trip was also severely criticized by Beijing, which claimed that the Dalai Lama was inciting independence for both Tibet and Taiwan. (Tamara Perkins, WU Yiyi)