Dalai Lama wishes to visit Taiwan

Taiwan welcomes visit by Dalai Lama if he sends request

Dalai Lama. (Facebook, Dalai Lama official page)

Dalai Lama. (Facebook, Dalai Lama official page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On Sunday (July 5) the Dalai Lama expressed his wish to make another visit to Taiwan, a move that was welcomed by Taiwan's government, but would likely anger China.

The Dalai Lama on Sunday, the eve of his 85th birthday, delivered a session on mind training to over 1,000 followers in Taiwan via a live video stream. During his talk, he said that since the first time he visited Taiwan, "I felt Taiwanese are very close to my mind and many [Taiwanese] are my good friends."

He added that "Everyone in Taiwan, young and old, are in my mind all the time." Towards the end of the talk, the Dalai Lama indicated a trip to Taiwan is a possibility: "As the political scenario changes, I may be able to visit Taiwan. I hope for that, but it is difficult to say this at this point in time. But whether I am able to physically able to come or not, in my spirit I am with you."

In response, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) on Monday (July 6) pointed out that the Dalai Lama is a respected religious leader who won the Nobel Prize in 1989. She said that he has many followers in Taiwan who hope that he can come to the country again to teach Dharma.

However, Ou said that no application for the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan has been yet been received by the government. "If an application is received, the government will respond in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and welcome the Dalai Lama to come to Taiwan again to promote the teachings of Buddhism at a time that is convenient for both sides," said Ou according to Newtalk.

Ou then added that Monday is the Dalai Lama's 85th birthday and that MOFA wishes him "a happy birthday, peace, and happiness."

The Dalai Lama first visited Taiwan in 1997 and returned in 2001 and 2009. However, increasing pressure from China has hindered subsequent trips, especially since Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) rose to power.