The Chinese government has said it is resolutely opposed to the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Taiwan.

Taiwan has approved the visit of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.

About 650 people are feared dead after the typhoon, the island's worst in 50 years, struck earlier this month.

The move threatens a brief chill in ties with China at a time of burgeoning trade and investment between the two.

'No matter under what form or identity Dalai uses to enter Taiwan, we resolutely oppose this,' China's Taiwan Affairs Bureau said in a statement.

However, a Taiwanese government spokesman said: 'Beijing will be a little uncomfortable, but if they understand how severe the disaster is they will show some respect to Taiwan's people.'

No date has yet been set for the trip, which the Dalai Lama is said to be very keen to make.

China brands the Dalai Lama as a separatist and has condemned his trips abroad from his home in India.

He fled into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949.