Taiwan has agreed to let the Dalai Lama visit the island to comfort survivors of a devastating typhoon, a decision that could anger China. Beijing considers the Buddhist spiritual leader a "splittist" for promoting autonomy in the Chinese region of Tibet. Allowing him to visit Taiwan could undermine the rapidly improving relations between Beijing and Taipei, which have been developing close business ties after decades of enmity.
China claims self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory, though they split amid civil war in 1949. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou made the surprise announcement Thursday when he visited a school destroyed in mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot early this month. The storm claimed 670 lives.