China — showing its displeasure with the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan this week — has canceled upcoming trips to the island by top state officials, state-run media reported.
Beijing has accused the exiled Tibetan leader of making his visit for political reasons.
China’s response appeared to be measured, because not all cross-strait events have been canceled. Several new direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan started this week.
The Dalai Lama has maintained that he is in Taiwan only to support recent typhoon victims.
He addressed thousands of followers at Kaohsiung Arena in southern Taiwan on Tuesday, leading prayers for the victims of last month’s Typhoon Morakot before delivering a sermon.
The spiritual leader spoke to a packed audience of about 15,000. Crowds lined up early, well ahead of the 9:30 a.m. start.
The allegations by the Chinese government began dogging him before his arrival in Taiwan. He has said he will not meet with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou to avoid politicising the trip.
“As soon as I received the invitation, I know there’s some complications maybe. But it is my sort of moral responsibility to come and to see, show my face, to those people who are passing through a difficult period,” the Dalai Lama said in a CNN interview. Video Watch as Dalai Lama opens up »
Typhoon Morakot dumped more than 3.3 meters (100 inches) of rain on the island before moving onto the mainland. The resulting flooding and landslides killed at least 543 people, Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation centre said last week, with possibly hundreds still missing.
Xinhua reported Sunday that Beijing maintains “resolute opposition” to the visit, which it said “is bound to have a negative influence on the relations between the mainland and Taiwan.”
Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province and accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating Tibetan independence from China.