China fine-tunes Taiwan protest in Dalai Lama row
China has fine-tuned its protests against Taiwan for hosting the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader Beijing brands a separatist, apparently to make a point without damaging ties, Reuters reported.
China, which has claimed self-ruled Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, said on Monday that the Dalai Lama's visit could "sabotage" fast-improving relations with China-friendly Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.
But its response so far has been to cancel just minor events and aim its ire at Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), not Ma.
The Dalai Lama arrived on Sunday to comfort victims of the island's worst typhoon in 50 years which struck this month, triggering floods that killed about 750 people. He said the purpose is non-political, but China does not see it that way.
"Exchange activities are either being pushed back or canceled," Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) China affairs director, Chang Jung-kung, said.
People's Bank of China vice governor Su Ning has postponed "for technical reasons" a scheduled trip to Taiwan where he was due to give a speech at a bill financing forum, organizers said.
A Chinese team will boycott the opening ceremony for the Deaflympics on Sept 5 in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, organizers said, while Chinese media said the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office will skip a planned "Taiwan Week" to be held in Liaoning Province, in northwestern China.
On Monday, Chinese media downplayed the launch of a host of direct scheduled flights between the mainland and Taiwan, an event that would normally be welcomed with great fanfare and extensive coverage of flower-strewn welcomes at the airports.
The India-based Dalai Lama was to pray in the southern Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung on Tuesday morning for victims of typhoon Morakot, which ravaged the island's south from August 7-9.
His itinerary then calls for a paid-admission public speech expected to draw supporters from the largely Buddhist island where he has been welcomed, despite small protests by pro-unification groups.
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.
Ties have warmed since last year as Ma brokers talks with Beijing to establish trade links and ease political tension.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. A Nobel prize winner and darling of the West, he has visited Taiwan twice before.
Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a "splittist" who seeks to separate nearly a quarter of the land mass of the People's Republic of China. The Dalai Lama denies the charge and says he seeks greater rights, including religious freedom and autonomy, for Tibetans.