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Dalai Lama greets Taiwanese Buddhists via live video address

5,500 Buddhists attended the event, held in Taipei and another venue in Yunlin County

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (OHHDL image)

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (OHHDL image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An estimated 5,500 Buddhists in Taiwan were greeted on Sunday (March 31) with a live video address from the 14th Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan leader spoke “face to face” from Dharamsala, India, with a congregation of 5,500 Buddhists to dispel doubts about his commitment to followers in Taiwan, according to Radio Free Press Asia. The video call was coordinated by the Taiwan International Tibetan Missionary Association (台灣國際藏傳法脈總會).

Chairman of the association, Hou Yi-ling (侯奕伶), said the event was held at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei and a separate venue in central Yunlin County. The Vimeo livestream reportedly attracted at least 200,000 viewers from China, Singapore, Malaysia.

The address lasted two and a half hours, with the Dalai Lama taking time to answer questions from five followers. During his speech, the Tibetan leader said he is no longer able to travel long-distance due to old age but cited the “China factor” as his reason for not visiting Taiwan recently.

He said he was honored to speak with the people of Taiwan via the internet. The Dalai Lama has visited Taiwan three times, in 1997, 2001 and 2009, but mounting pressure from Beijing has prevented his return—particularly since China leader Xi Jinping (習近平) came into power.

Several legislators and activists called for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to extend a formal invite to the Dalai Lama ahead of a rally to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan uprising in March. Democratic Progressive Party Secretary-General Lo Wen-jia (羅文嘉) said Taiwan would welcome his visit.