The exiled spiritual leader offered prayers for recent victims of typhoon Morakot as he kicked off the visit, which has brought together China’s two most sensitive territorial issues. Beijing said the trip was “bound to have a negative influence” on recently improved ties across the strait.
The Dalai Lama did not discuss Tibet, although on a visit to a village buried by a mudslide he told reporters he was dedicated to promoting democracy. About 570 people died across the south of the island as Morakot unleashed harsh winds and torrential rain this month.
Beijing usually criticises in harsh terms nations that allow the Dalai Lama to visit, warning that he is a “splittist” who wants Tibetan independence – although he insists he seeks only autonomy. Taiwan is an especially sensitive case because China still claims sovereignty over the self-ruled territory.