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Taiwan Ex-leader's Japan Visit Flayed
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Former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui reached Tokyo yesterday and Beijing reiterated its concern that the visit has political implications.

Lee, 84, who was "president" of the island between 1998 and 2000, is seen as a representative of separatist forces in Taiwan, which is an integral part of China.

Japanese government officials said Lee is on a 11-day visit to Tokyo as a tourist and that it should not harm Japan's relations with China.

But according to Lee's itinerary, his visit includes lectures at universities and addressing a news conference. Lee told reporters at Tokyo's Narita Airport that he wanted to visit Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan's militarist past where Japan's war dead, including 14 class-A World War II criminals, are honored.

"We strongly oppose anybody conducting secessionist activities in countries having diplomatic ties with China," spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of State Council Li Weiyi said at a news conference yesterday.

"We hope Japan will abide by the three political documents, including the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, and fulfill its promise on the Taiwan issue through its actions, and will not provide a stage for Taiwan separatist activities," Li said.

The mainland opposes visits by Taiwanese officials to countries with which it has diplomatic ties. It has already lodged a stern protest with Japan for allowing Lee to enter the country.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi raised Beijing's concerns over the detrimental effects of Lee's visit to Tokyo when he met with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso in Germany on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe meeting of foreign ministers on Monday.

Considering his identity as a political figure and his past words and deeds, Lee's visit to Japan is far from a tourist trip, analysts said.

Lee's reported visit to Yasukuni Shrine as a retired Taiwan leader will "tarnish the dignity" of Taiwan people, Gao Jin Su-Mei, a Taiwan resident was quoted by Hong Kong-based China Review News as saying.

(China Daily May 31, 2007)

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