Saturday, August 29, 2009

FACTBOX: Dalai Lama, China, Taiwan

TAIPEI, Aug. 28, 2009 (Reuters) -- The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader reviled by China as a separatist, is set to visit Taiwan next week. Following are key facts about the Dalai Lama, China, and Taiwan:

  • Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a high monk or a "living Buddha [Bodhisattva]" is reincarnated after his death and the resulting "soul boy" can be found through the interpretation of arcane signs.
  • After the death of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1934, Tibetan officials asked local authorities to look out for remarkable baby boys with characteristics including large ears, tiger-striped legs, and palms bearing the pattern of a sea-shell.
  • In 1937, the 14th Dalai Lama was discovered as a two-year old named Lhamo Dhondup, in Taktser village, in eastern Qinghai province, a region called Amdo by Tibetans.
  • The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, and has suggested his reincarnation may be found outside China. Chinese leaders maintain that the next Dalai Lama will be approved by them.
  • A visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama brings together two of China's most sensitive territorial claims -- over Tibet and self-ruled Taiwan, and thus strikes a raw nerve in Beijing.
  • China brands him a dangerous "splittist," or separatist, and is furious with his popularity in the West. Angry at his trip to Europe last year, especially his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, China called off a summit with the European Union. The Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking greater autonomy for Tibet. More>>

PHOTO: Soldiers exercise during a training session at a beach on the Xisha islands, Hainan province August 26, 2009. China on Thursday urged the United States to "remove obstacles" to military ties, demanding the United States respect China's core interests so as to create conditions for further military cooperation, Xinhua News Agency reported (Reuters/China Daily). More photos