The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, is coming to Taiwan for the first time today, stepping into the crossfire of the island's feud with China.
To China, the visit brings together two of the most prominent figures in its rogue's gallery of "splittists," as it labels those who would break away from the Chinese motherland.The Dalai Lama is Buddhist spiritual leader of Tibet, the Himalayan region that China occupied in 1950, and for which he is seeking autonomy.
Taiwan is the seat of the Nationalists who fled the Communist take-over of China in 1949, and still refuse to come under Beijing's wing. China believes that Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, wants to go independent and dump the doctrine that Taiwan and China are one country.
China always objects to foreign governments playing host to the Dalai Lama, and it will be watching the six-day visit closely.
"Lee and the Dalai should wake up from their fantasy of `splitting China,' because anyone who goes too far along the separatist road will surely be dealt a deadly blow in the end," the official China Daily said Wednesday.
A representative said Friday the Dalai Lama will turn down an invitation to address parliament in order "not to cause any inconvenience or embarrassment" to his host.
China has tended to confine its attacks to the Dalai Lama rather than Taiwan for letting him visit.