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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Warns Taiwan President Against U.S. Visit


BEIJING -- The United States risks sparking a fresh bout of Chinese wrath if it allows Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui to accept an invitation to visit, Beijing said Wednesday.

Conservative U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, the foreign relations committee chief, said Tuesday he was planning to invite Lee Teng-hui to visit the United States -- raising the prospect of renewed Sino-U.S. diplomatic frictions.

Lee, however, said in an interview Wednesday with The Asian Wall Street Journal that he does not plan any foreign trips for "quite a while."

"I said recently that any trip abroad that can help my nation and further bilateral relations with another country is worth taking," Lee said in the interview.

"However, I have just been elected president of the Republic of Taiwan and will have a full agenda for a long period of time. I am afraid I shall have no time for overseas trips for quite a while and now I certainly have no plans to visit the United States."

Lee, the incumbent, won his first popular mandate on the Nationalist-ruled island by drubbing three rivals Saturday in the first democratic presidential election in Chinese history.

His victory came despite weeks of missile tests staged by the communist mainland in waters near Taiwan in what Beijing said was a bid to frighten voters away from Lee and what it sees as his pro-independence stance.

Since the late 1940s, China has regarded Taiwan as a rebel province and still vows to take the island by force if it abandons its reunification policy and declares independence.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, asked about Helms' plan to invite Lee to visit the United States, said Sino-U.S. accords did not allow official U.S. contacts with Taiwan. The spokeswoman made it clear an invitation would violate those agreements.

"We demand the U.S. government ... earnestly implement its solemn commitment on the question of Taiwan by strictly limiting U.S.-Taiwan relations to being unofficial," she said.

The White House said Wednesday it has no plans for Lee to visit the United States despite Helms' invitation.

President Clinton's decision to allow Lee to attend his Cornell University reunion last June sent Sino-U.S. ties into a tailspin.

Relations soured anew this month after the United States answered China's war games near Taiwan by sending in two aircraft carrier groups.

Tensions have eased since the election and the aircraft carrier Independence is returning to base in Japan.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali told reporters Taiwan can forget about joining the United Nations unless Beijing changes its mind.

"You cannot admit a member without the recommendation of the Security Council, and China has veto power," Boutros-Ghali told reporters.

He also said he discussed the recent tensions between China and Taiwan with top Chinese leaders during his five-day visit.

He said he is convinced that leaders of the region have the "political will to solve all problems peacefully."

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