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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"The Dalai Lama claimed that the Chinese had no reason to be concerned"
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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Dalai Lama braves Chinese protests
Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama: Not ganging up against China
By South Asia correspondent Mike Wooldridge

The Dalai Lama is going to Taiwan for a 10-day visit he had delayed while he awaited the outcome of efforts to open talks with the Chinese.

Before leaving Dharamsala, his exiled headquarters in northern India, he sought to pre-empt further Chinese protests about the visit, maintaining that Beijing had no reason to be concerned.

Tibetan capital Lhasa
Beijing sees both Tibet and Taiwan as being part of China
This will be the Dalai Lama's second visit to Taiwan.

The first was in 1997, and the Chinese Government then accused Taiwan of creating new divisions between Taipei and Beijing by allowing him to visit the island.

As Beijing sees it, both Tibet and Taiwan are part of China, and the Dalai Lama's aim is to promote separatism.

Beijing routinely tries to discourage countries from receiving the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

And Taiwan is a destination that clearly arouses its concern like few others.

Teaching visit

But speaking before setting out from Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama said the objective of the trip was not ganging up against China.

He was going to meet Taiwan's Buddhist community and teach.

He hoped to be able to remove the suspicions people had of one another.

If he could have gone to mainland China he would, he said. Taiwan was the alternative.

No progress with China

Late last year, plans for the Taiwan visit took a back seat as the Dalai Lama sought to open talks with Beijing about the future of his homeland.

Contacts were renewed after being long frozen.

But the Dalai Lama said nothing had resulted from the initiative as yet.

The Chinese Government was not willing to receive the delegation he had proposed.

So, accusing Beijing of narrow-minded nationalism, the Dalai Lama went ahead with a Taiwan visit after all.

He said he could not predict what the consequences would be for the hope of talks with Beijing.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
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11 Mar 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Tibetans keep their faith
25 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
UN chief defends Dalai Lama snub
18 Feb 00 | South Asia
Dalai Lama's appeal for Tibet
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