After the People’s Liberation Army of communist China entered Tibet and the Dalai Lama made his journey into exile in 1959, any Tibetan having ties with China was considered a traitor.314 This view was not confined only to those who dealt with the People’s Republic of China (‘PRC’) but even to those who had association with the Republic of China (‘ROC’, that is, Taiwan).315
The Dalai Lama banned Tibetans from travelling to Taiwan. Those who wished to take up opportunities to study or work in Taiwan therefore had to circumvent this ban. Some obtained forged passports through Nepal, putting themselves at great personal risk and becoming illegal citizens abroad.316 But the ROC (Taiwan) was itself in conflict with the PRC, so why did the Dalai Lama adopt this extreme view in the first place?
Not only was the ROC the sworn enemy of the PRC, but it was actively involved in supporting the Tibetan guerrillas in their fight against the PRC, supplying them with weapons and providing train- ing.317 The Dalai Lama’s brother Gyalo Dondrub – the so-called ‘spymaster of Lhasa’318 – was good friends with General Chiang Kai-Shek,319 the first leader of the ROC, and had married a daughter of one of Chiang Kai-Shek’s senior generals.320 Given that they were allies with close connections at the highest levels of government, why were ordinary Tibetans not allowed to associate with the ROC in Taiwan?
A clue may come from the Dalai Lama’s own official visits to Taiwan. According to reports the Dalai Lama’s visit in 1997 raised NT$17 million (New Taiwan dollars) in donations, and his next visit a further NT$15 million.321 Who knows how much money had previously reached the Dalai Lama’s coffers from this wealthy nation? With no competition to their fundraising efforts, for years the vast wealth of the ROC in Taiwan could be exclusively tapped by the Dalai Lama’s family. No other Tibetan could gain access to this wealth without having their reputation destroyed by the Tibetan exile government.