Taiwan would welcome a visit by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, its foreign ministry has said, adding that any invitation would be handled under "relevant rules" if a request to visit is received, reported Radio Free Asia, a US-funded international broadcasting corporation.
The Dalai Lama is "welcome to come to Taiwan again to propagate the Buddhist teachings," foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said on Monday, adding that an application by the Dalai Lama to visit would be handled "in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and at a time of convenience for both sides."
A visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama would be his first since 2009 and would certainly anger Beijing, which claims self-governing Taiwan as a renegade province and regards the Tibetan spiritual leader as a dangerous separatist intent on splitting Tibet from Chinese rule.
"As the political scenario changes, it may be that I'll be able to visit you in Taiwan again soon. I hope so," the Dalai Lama said in a video message sent to supporters in Taiwan on the occasion of his birthday, July 6, and referring apparently to recent moves by the country's president Tsai Ing-wen to further distance from China.
"Whatever happens, I'll remain with you in spirit," the Dalai Lama said.
Greetings and well wishes poured in from around the world on Sunday, the Dalai Lama's 85th birthday, with Tibetans in Tibet defying Chinese prohibitions on celebrations by offering prayers and posting images of the revered spiritual leader online.
Western politicians and foreign dignitaries including former US President George Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Nobel laureates, and European politicians meanwhile sent video messages voicing admiration and support.
"The esteem in which you are held by the people of the United States is a demonstration of the deep and enduring affinity between Americans and Tibetans," said US Ambassador to India Kenneth Ian Juster in a statement at celebrations held in Dharamsala, India, by Tibet's government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration.
"I believe the warm feelings between Americans and Tibetans spring in part from the recognition that yours is a just and noble struggle--a struggle to secure for your people the same self-evident and unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our Founding Fathers enshrined in the Declaration of Independence," Juster said.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 Tibetan national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan country in 1950. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala. (ANI)