The Dalai Lama denied having any political agenda as he began what he described as a "purely humanitarian" mission to comfort victims of Taiwan's worst storm, trying to calm fears that he would further anger China by verging into politics.
Although the Tibetan spiritual leader has traveled to Taiwan before, many fear his arrival now could hurt the island's improving relations with rival China -- the signature issue in the 15-month-old administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. China has protested the visit.
The Dalai Lama clasped his hands and smiled as he greeted Buddhist followers and supporters at the Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei, the capital. "I've visited different parts of the world, and I may have a political agenda there . . . [but] my visit here is purely for humanitarian concerns," he said.
At a suburban Taipei train station he was greeted by about 50 people waving Chinese flags and banners supporting unification with China and shouting "Go home Dalai Lama, don't come here!" The group scuffled with police.