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China Angry Over U.S. Visa for Taiwanese

April 22, 2001|From Times Wire Services

BEIJING — China warned the United States on Saturday that granting a visa to former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui would damage Beijing's relations with Washington and Taipei, and called for the decision to be reversed.

The United States should "correct its incorrect stand and prevent Lee Teng-hui from using his visit to America to engage in activities to split China," state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao as saying.

Beijing is already furious over a decision by Japan to grant Lee a visa, and Washington's decision Friday to allow Lee to visit his old university, Cornell, comes in the midst of a tense standoff with China over a U.S. spy plane and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

"If the United States allows his visit, it will encourage Taiwan independence forces to split China, worsen tensions across the Taiwan Strait and damage cross-strait and Sino-U.S. relations," Zhu said.

Lee, who holds a doctorate from Cornell, plans to attend a ceremony establishing the Lee Teng-hui Institute for Scientific Research at the campus. He also plans to visit his granddaughter, a student at the university, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Lee's private visit to Cornell in 1995 sent U.S.-China relations to their lowest point in years and precipitated months of military tension between China and Taiwan.

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