China says it "resolutely opposes" Taiwan's decision to invite exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit the island on a humanitarian mission.
In a statement released Thursday to state media, China's Taiwan Affairs Bureau says it opposes any sort of visit by the Dalai Lama to the self-ruled island.
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is set to arrive in Taiwan Sunday for several days of religious ceremonies on the island devastated by typhoon Morakot.China's official news agency, Xinhua, says the mainland's religious head, Ye Xiaowen, arrived in Taiwan Friday to participate in Buddhist ritual prayer for typhoon victims. It says Ye was invited by Taiwanese Buddhists, while the Dalai Lama was not.
Thursday, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou approved an invitation to the Dalai Lama to pray for victims of a typhoon that hit the island this month, and to comfort survivors. Mr. Ma's spokesman said the visit will be "humanitarian and religious" in nature and should not affect cross-Strait ties.
China, however, repeated its accusation that the Dalai Lama uses religion as a cover for separatist activities.
A U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley Thursday called the Dalai Lama a "respected religious leader" and said he hopes his visit to Taiwan will not lead to any increased tensions in the region.
The Dalai Lama was invited to visit Taiwan not by the island's government but by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
The opposition has criticized Mr. Ma for what he admitted was a slow response to Typhoon Morakot, which left at least 670 people dead or missing.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.