Taiwan sends envoy to China over Dalai visit

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party has sent a special envoy to China to firm up ties ahead of the Dalai Lama’s controversial visit to the island, a report said today.

The KMT is concerned the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit could harm warming relations with Beijing, prompting China to delay the signing of a major trade pact or cut down on the number of visitors to the island, the report said. The United Evening News was citing unnamed sources and KMT officials were not immediately available for comment on the report. The Dalai Lama is set for an August 30 to September 4 visit to the island, which is still reeling from a devastating typhoon that struck earlier this month, killing 571 people.

His trip was harshly criticised in Beijing, which accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from China and opposes any official contact with him.

Ties between Taiwan and China had been on the mend after President Ma Ying-jeou took office last year pledging closer links.