China denounced the Dalai Lama’s trip to Taiwan, saying the visit by a man Beijing brands a separatist could “have a negative influence” on relations between the mainland and Taiwan, state media reported on Monday.
The Tibetan spiritual leader arrived on Sunday in Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by Beijing, for a hasty visit to comfort victims of a typhoon.
As with a denunciation it issued when the visit was announced last week, China focused its criticism on the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
By not blaming Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou or the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT), Beijing may have indicated that it does not wish to escalate the issue.
“The Democratic Progressive Party has ulterior motives to instigate the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan, who has long been engaged in separatist activities,” a spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
“We resolutely oppose this and our position is firm and clear,” the spokesman said. “The Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan is bound to have a negative influence on the relations between the mainland and Taiwan.”
China is considered unlikely to retaliate by choking off growing economic ties between the long-time political rivals.
China opposes the Dalai Lama’s trips abroad and condemned Taiwan opposition leaders for inviting him last week to visit until Friday. He will pray for victims of Typhoon Morakot, Taiwan’s worst storm in 50 years which killed up to 745 people.
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, flew from India to Taiwan’s main international airport for a mass prayer and other religious activities in storm-hit southern Taiwan.