Total Fiasco: Dalai Lama to Visit Taiwan

Just when you thought it was safe to stop reading those oh-so-comprehensive Chinese nationalistic rags like the Global Times, here comes another story ripe with intrigue that Xinhua and the rest of us cannot ignore. In the aftermath of Ma Ying-jeou’s questionable handling of the typhoon relief operations, local mayors have invited, and His Holiness has accepted, an invitation to afflicted areas in southern Taiwan. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Hotel de Ville, the mayor of Paris is chuckling.

To get a sense of what Ma is confronting, imagine the mirror image of PRC Premier Wen Jiabao’s strong and sympathy-inducing handling of the immediate aftermath of the Chengdu earthquake last spring, add a revitalizing opposition ready to pounce, low approval ratings within a democratic society (whereas the same Wen Jiabao canonized for helping earthquake kids inSichuan in 2008 can arrest and rough up anyone who calls for an accurate death count of earthquake kids in Sichuan in 2009), all of which conspires to scuttle the swoon of apparently-improving relations with the mainland, and you have a perfect storm.

By contrast, it’s worth noting that the Dalai Lama’s visit to Frankfurt exactly one month ago hardly batted an eyelash in the Chinese media. On a tram in Frankfurt a week before he showed up, I talked to four overseas Chinese living in the city who hadn’t even heard His Holiness was on the way.  This trip to Taiwan is going to be a circus.

Dalai Lama trip puts Ma on spot
Lawrence Chung in Taipei George Tsai Wei, political analyst at Chinese Cultural University
South China Morning Post
27 Aug 2009

Ma Ying-jeou faces one of the toughest decisions of his presidency after the pro-independence camp invited the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan to comfort typhoon victims. The invitation to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the island for four…read more…

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