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Asia-Pacific
Lee affirms Taiwan's independence
The former president's visit to Japan's Yasukuni shrine riles China.
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2007 10:51 GMT
Lee made the comments as he concluded a
private visit to Japan [Reuters]

Taiwan's former president has reiterated that the island is independent of China, and rebuked Beijing over its criticism of his visit to Japan's Yasukuni shrine.
 
Lee Teng-hui made the comments on Saturday, as he concluded a visit to Japan, accusing China of inventing the "Yasukuni problem".
"Taiwan is an independent country," Lee said. "It is natural that the Taiwanese people clearly assert that Taiwan is theirs, and theirs only."
 
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has threatened war if the island tries to formalise its self-governing status.
Beijing has accused Lee of using his visit to push for Taiwan's independence.
 
Lee defended his visit as a "private event", but his comments come a few days after Costa Rica cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of China.
 
On Wednesday, Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president, announced the Central American country was cutting ties with Taiwan as it needed to strengthen ties with China in order to attract foreign investment.
 
Beijing welcomed the move, saying it opened the way to "beneficial cooperation" with Costa Rica.
 
Controversial visit
 
Lee also accused Beijing of overreacting to his visit to Yasukuni shrine, Japan's controversial temple to its war dead, saying Beijing was using the issue to divert attention from problems at home.
 

"The Yasukuni problem was invented by the Chinese and Koreans because they could not deal with problems in their own country"

Lee Teng-hui
former Taiwanese president

Taiwan is a former Japanese colony and Lee's elder brother, who was killed in 1945 while serving with Japan's navy during the Second World War, is listed among the 2.5 million war dead honored at Yasukuni.
 
"I see no problem with countries honoring young soldiers who gave their lives for their country," he said.
 
"That is not something that foreign governments should criticise."
 
Lee said that the "Yasukuni problem was invented by the Chinese and Koreans because they could not deal with problems in their own country".
 
China strongly objects to public figures visiting the site, which enshrines a number of war criminals, and views such visits as a glorification of Japan's military past.
 
Consequently Yasukuni has been a frequent flash point between Japan and China.
Source:
Agencies
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