The Dalai Lama Visits Taiwan

The following article is from the Spring, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Crowds lined his route, waving his portrait and Tibetan snow lion flags. A huge portrait of him was suspended from the ceiling of the lobby of the hotel where he stayed. The Taiwanese, including 500,000 followers of Tibetan Buddhism living on the island, had their chance to see the Dalai Lama, which one called the chance of a thousand years.

In a stadium packed with 50,000 people at Kaohsiung, His Holiness urged everyone to fill their hearts with love and tolerance. At Chungshan University, he received an honorary doctorate in social science for his relentless efforts to promote freedom of religion and world peace.

During his week-long visit to the island, the Dalai Lama also had meetings with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, Premier Lien Chan, and the head of the pro-independence party, Hsu Hsin-liang. Hsu Hsinlaing praised His Holiness as a champion of nonviolence, adding that we very much support his approach in dealing with China.

The Dalai Lama, who was interviewed by the press at numerous times during his visit, gave such statements as: My position is very clear. I am not seeking independence. I am seeking a genuine self-rule [for all matters except foreign affairs and defense). We are not anti-Chinese. I always consider that a close understanding between Tibet and the Chinese is extremely important. As soon as some positive indications or responses come from mainland China, I am ready to talk without any precondition, the Dalai Lama said.

Biejing, however, watched in horror as its rival government in Taiwan welcomed Tibet's leader-in-exile. For Beijing, this had the makings of a nightmare scenario. The People's Daily spoke of collusion between splittest forces in Taiwan and Tibetan independence forces to split the political system of the motherland.

Chinese leaders are apparently having quite a bit to worry about in the way of splittists lately. China's whole periphery, from Xinjiang to Tibet and Yunnan, is now a necklace of ethnic discontent. Xinjiang's Uigur Muslims delivered their separatist message with bombs after Deng Xiaoping's death. Now, they are calling for strikes. Hui Muslims late last year blocked streets in the Shaanxi city of Xian for days after a Hui died in police custody.

Meanwhile, Vice-President A1 Gore and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were in Beijing to meet with China's Premier Li Peng. While Gore tried to smooth the easily ruffled feathers of his new Chinese friends, Gingrich repeatedly stated that America cannot remain silent about the basic lack of freedomspeech, religion, assembly, the pressin China

The Dalai Lama will get a chance to plead his case with U.S. Congressional leaders in private meetings on April 22. His Holiness will alsotdeliver the keynote address at a meeting of international elected officials on Capitol Hill April 23.

(Compiledfrom articles provided by Renter, AFP and International Campaign for Tibet.)

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