Former Taiwan leader scraps visit

AFP-JIJI

Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui has decided for health reasons to scrap plans to visit Japan, his office said, after his previous trips irked Beijing.

Lee had planned to fly to Japan next Wednesday and deliver two speeches during a four-day stay, but doctors advised the 90-year-old former leader, who has been hospitalized twice this year, not to travel.

“Doctors said it is not proper for Lee to take a long-distance trip at the moment,” spokesman Wang Yen-chun said, adding that the trip is postponed indefinitely.

The Japan-educated Lee has been to Japan five times since he retired as president in 2000, with each trip triggering protests from China’s government, which sees the visits as attempts to strengthen Taiwan’s status.

China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, conducted missile tests in waters surrounding Taiwan in 1995 and 1996 in response to what it called Lee’s attempts to “split the motherland”.