On Saturday 22 March 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in the southern port-city of Kaohsiung and received a tumultuous welcome by thousands of Taiwanese.
Although the visit was officially announced to be religious in nature, it has major political significance, since it brings Tibetans and Taiwanese together, and will strengthen the bonds and understanding of each other's cause.
This was abundantly clear on Saturday, March 22nd, when the Dalai Lama was welcomed in Kaohsiung by a sea of Tibet's snow-lion flags and by signs endorsing independence for both Taiwan and Tibet. One sign read: "By saying no to China, the Dalai Lama is a shining example for Lee Teng-hui" a subtle hint to President Lee, who has until now been hesitant to endorse Taiwan's independence.
His visit turned even more political when he met with a delegation from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which advocates independence for Taiwan and an end to the KMT authorities' "one China" policy.
He also met with the Vice President and Premier, Lien Chan in a hotel, and on March 27th, his final day of visit, he met with President Lee Teng-hui in the Foreign Ministry's Guest House. The Dalai Lama regrettably canceled a planned speech to the democratically-elected Legislative Yuan. At the end of the visit, it was announced that the Tibetan government-in-exile would set up a representative office in Taipei.
In its usual heavy-handed language, the Communist regime in Beijing denounced the visit as being "a splittist collusion" by the Dalai Lama and Lee Teng-hui to "split the motherland."
The visit also drew attention to the Kuomintang's outdated claim that it still holds sovereignty over Tibet. The KMT authorities still maintain a Tibetan and Mongolian Affairs Commission, which presumably makes decisions regarding those two countries. The democratic opposition of the DPP and Taiwan Independence Party have called on the Kuomintang authorities to give up the pretense of sovereignty over Tibet and to abolish the Tibetan and Mongolian Affairs Commission.
Taiwanese to Chinese soldier: "The Dalai Lama is here, 'colluding' with us. How come you don't have any military excercises..."
The Kuomintang's anachronistic claim was exemplified again when the chairman of the KMT's Mainland Affairs Council, Mr. Chang Ching-yu, referred to the Dalai Lama as "an overseas Chinese." The Taiwan Independence Party immediately lodged a strong protest against this derogatory remark and called for Mr. Chang's resignation.
Annette Lü Hsiu-lien
On 15 March 1997, by-elections were held in Taoyuan County to fill the seat of the County magistrate, which became vacant last Fall when the KMT Magistrate, who was reported to have connections in the underworld, was killed in a gangster attack on his home. The authorities have not been able to solve the murder.
The election was won overwhelmingly by Ms. (Annette) Lü Hsiu-lien, who captured 55% of the votes against 36% for her KMT opponent. Taoyuan county, a heavily industrialized area, is the second most populated county in Taiwan with 1.2 million people.
Ms. Lü is a former political prisoner, who was arrested and imprisoned in December 1979 for advocating a free, democratic and independent Taiwan during the Human Rights Day commemoration which turned into the "Kaohsiung Incident."
After her release from prison in March 1985, Ms. Lü first went to the US for graduate studies at Harvard, but in 1992 returned to Taiwan to became active again in the democratic opposition of the DPP, and ran successfully for a seat in the Legislative Yuan in December 1992.
During the past years she was one of the leaders of the "Taiwan into the UN" campaign and was also an outspoken advocate of women's rights in Taiwan and around the world. In the 1970s, she pioneered the women's rights movement in Taiwan.
According to a report by Associated Press, Ms. Lü's election means that more than half the island's population is now governed by opposition county magistrates or mayors: the capital Taipei has a DPP-mayor, Mr. Chen Shui-bian, and seven of the 23 counties now have a DPP magistrate. Together, these eight DPP-governed constituencies account for 50.16% of Taiwan's population.
At the end of March 1997, the "Taiwan, Ilha Formosa" homepage moved from its Compuserve home to a new site. Its new URL-address is:
The site is titled "The Homepage for Taiwan's History, Present, and Future" and carries extensive information about Taiwan's 400 years' history, culture and folklore, present political developments in and around the island, and its future as a free, democratic, and independent member of the international family of nations. Come for a visit.
Back to: Table of Contents
Copyright © 1997 Taiwan Communiqué