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Taiwan put 'gag order' on Dalai Lama: nephew

world Updated: Sep 02, 2009 16:40 IST
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Taiwan was prompted by China to put a "gag order" on the Dalai Lama before letting him come to the island, the exiled Tibetan leader's nephew told AFP on Wednesday.

Taiwan urged the Dalai Lama to keep a low profile during his visit to the island, in order not to upset China, said Khedroob Thondup, who is also a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile in the Indian town of Dharamshala.

"They put a gag order on him. Before he left India he was told not to say anything political and to curtail his activities," he said by telephone from India.

"This was conveyed to our office in Delhi. He was told to cut down even religious activities. This is all because of pressure from Beijing."

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, who gave the green light for the five-day visit this week, has said he does not intend to meet the Dalai Lama.

Thondup, who is normally based in Taipei, said this week's visit was in stark contrast to two earlier trips when the Dalai Lama met several leading politicians.

"It's very surprising that Taiwan, which is a vibrant democracy, will put a gag order on anyone. But this time, they decided to do it, because of the improvement of relations across the Taiwan straits," he said.

Ma was voted into power last year on a promise to improve ties with the ever-more powerful mainland.

China has twice stated its opposition to the Dalai Lama's visit to Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory.

Despite the efforts to reduce his activities, the Dalai Lama did not consider cancelling the trip, his nephew said.

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama decided to go, because he wanted to show his concern for the typhoon victims," Thondup said.