China has demanded that Japan immediately repeal its decision to issue a visa to former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui.
"Lee Teng-hui is a symbol of aggressive forces of 'Taiwan independence,'" said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao at Thursday's regular press conference.
Japan announced the same day that it would grant a visa to Lee as a private citizen for a "sightseeing trip."
Liu said China does not consider the visit to be private. Rather, it is to seek backing for "Taiwan independence" and create external conditions for speeding independence activities.
"Japan's agreeing to allow him (Lee) to visit is itself a challenge to China's unification efforts and is a type of support for and indulgence of Taiwan's independence forces."
China has warned Japan that allowing the visit will harm bilateral relations.
Lee, leader of the Taiwan authority from 1988 to 2000, last visited Japan in 2001. Then-Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka admitted that Lee's visit at that time was not merely for personal or humanitarian reasons.
Before stepping down in 1999, Lee redefined the island's ties with the mainland as special "state-to-state" relations.
The Japanese government claims Lee has promised he will not engage in political activities during his stay, but Lee's success in applying to visit Japan itself is widely seen as a political action.
Turning to the Tokyo High Court's rejection of a claim for damages from four Chinese women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese army during World War II, Liu said that Japan should handle issues left over from history in a responsible manner.
Liu said the conscription of what Japan euphemistically calls "comfort women" was a grave crime committed by Japanese militarists during World War II against victimized countries, including China.
On Wednesday, the high court ruled that the government was not liable for damages caused by state authorities under Japan's previous constitution.
Research indicates that at least 200,000 Chinese and other Asian women were forced to serve as sex slaves by Japanese forces during the war.
China appreciates the efforts Britain, France and Germany have made in addressing the Iran nuclear issue and welcomes the agreement reached between the three countries and Iran. China hopes that negotiations will proceed smoothly and a long-term resolution soon reached.
Iran and the European trio resumed the talks in Brussels on Monday to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement the parties concluded on November 7.
China supports Mohamed ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Liu said.
"He has promoted the development of peaceful utilization of nuclear energy and is widely acclaimed by the international community," Liu said.
ElBaradei, 62, took the helm of the IAEA in 1997 and his current term will expire in 2005.
The next round of six-party talks has been stalled by disagreements between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
China hopes the US and the DPRK can settle their differences so the talks can move forward, and will continue working to bring all parties back to the table.
China's ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, recently visited Chinese police working as part of a peacekeeping mission in Haiti. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has sent 152 anti-riot peacekeeping policemen to Haiti at the request of the UN.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Hoshyar Zebari, foreign minister of the Iraqi interim government, will come to China on December 22 to discuss Sino-Iraqi relations, the situation in Iraq and other issues.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency, CRI.com December 17, 2004)