But the Communist government of the People's Republic of China, which lays claim to both Taiwan and Tibet, has denounced the decision of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to allow His Holiness to visit the flood ravaged island, which lies just 100 miles off the coast of the PRC.
In announcing his decision, President Ma said
The Dalai Lama could come to Taiwan to help rest the souls of the dead and also pray for the well-being of the survivors.Taiwan is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country (over 90% of it's 23 million+ inhabitants are Buddhist), and the Dalai Lama is an extremely popular figure there. When His Holiness visited the island in 1997 and 2001 tens of thousands of people turned out to hear and see him. The Dalai Lama was very impressed with the enthusiastic greeting and, after his last visit, had decided to return to Taiwan at least once every two years. But the PRC furiously demanded that no more visits take place, and the Taiwanese government has acquiesced - until now.
Read the latest news stories on the Dalai Lama's upcoming visit to Taiwan here.