Dalai Lama suggests Taiwan "integrate" with China
( dpa ) - Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama suggested Taiwan "integrate" with China while praising Taiwan's freedom and democracy, the Central News Agency (CNA) said Thursday.
The 72-year-old Buddhist monk made the call in an interview with CNA in the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala, base of the Tibetan government-in-exile since 1959.
In the interview, the Dalai Lama spoke highly of Taiwan's democracy and prosperity and apologized for breaking his promise to visit Taiwan every two years because his visits in 1997 and 2001 so angered China that it strained ties between the Tibetans and Taiwanese.
For the sake of the Tibetans and to calm the situation, he announced he would not visit Taiwan again, but he told CNA he would always keep the Taiwan people and government's kindness in his heart.
The Dalai Lama said he visited Taiwan because at that time he assumed China would never allow him to return to mainland China, and Taiwan was the only place where he could learn from the Chinese.
" Taiwan has freedom and democracy, has preserved Chinese culture and has a sound Bhikkuni (nun) ordination system. All these are worth our learning from," he said.
The Dalai Lama said he maintains good ties with Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties. "To Tibetans, Taiwan is a very important place," he was quoted as saying.
The Dalai Lama said when he visited Taiwan that Tibet could not seek independence because it needed China's economic assistance and assistance in other fields.
"I also suggested Taiwan should integrate with China, especially launching economic cooperation with China," CNA quoted him as saying.
Although the Dalai Lama has renounced independence and is seeking only autonomy for Tibet, China still regards him as a "splittist" wearing the cloak of religion.
The Taiwan government has always supported the cause of the Dalai Lama, saying the future of Tibet should be decided by the Tibetan people both inside and outside Tibet.