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Dalai Lama's visit brings political tempest to Taiwan

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TAIPEI, TAIWAN – The Dalai Lama toured storm-lashed southern Taiwan Monday, at the start of a politically charged visit to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.

The Dalai Lama insists his visit has only a humanitarian purpose. “There's no political agenda,” he told reporters Monday. But his presence has nonetheless touched off controversy.

China brands the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader a "splittist" and loudly protests against any nation hosting him.

Beijing is especially irate this time around, as the Dalai Lama is visiting the self-governed island it considers a Tibet-in-waiting – an inalienable part of Chinese territory destined to return to the fold.

China sees twin troubles

The Dalai Lama has close contacts with Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, and local DPP leaders invited him for the current visit – his third to Taiwan since 1997.

Beijing sees the Dalai Lama and the DPP as separatists-in-arms. “The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has ulterior motives to instigate the Dalai Lama, who has long been engaged in separatist activities, to visit Taiwan,” said an unidentified spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, according to a report published on its website.

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