Fri, Dec 31, 2004 - Page 1 News List

China seeks to punish Japan over Lee visit

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Beijing warned that Japan might be barred from participating in a major high speed railway project in China shortly after former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) began a weeklong trip to Japan earlier this week, a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei (武大偉) told a visiting delegation of Japanese Diet members on Tuesday that Beijing found it difficult to let Japan join the construction of the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway as a result of worsening bilateral ties, according to a local evening paper.

Praising the high quality of the Shinkansen, or Japanese bullet train, Wu nevertheless said Beijing might have to exclude Japan from the Beijing-Shanghai railway project, which Japan, Germany and France have competed for fiercely over the past few years.

"We are facing high anti-Japan sentiment in China. If our government adopts the Shinkansen technique in the railway project, people would have [negative] opinions," Wu said.

Xu Jialu (許嘉璐), vice chairman of the National People's Congress' Standing Committee, told the Diet members the same thing at a separate meeting.

"The current relations between China and Japan make it hard for us to adopt the Shinkansen technique in building the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway," Xu said.

Beijing's warning to Japan over the railway project, which came a day after Lee arrived in the Japanese city of Nagoya Monday, is viewed as retaliation against Japan's decision to issue Lee a visa despite China's repeated protests.

Calling Lee a mastermind of Taiwan's "independence forces," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said before Lee's trip that Beijing might retaliate against Tokyo if it allowed Lee's visit.

On Wednesday, Lee and his family traveled by train from Nagoya to Kanazawa, a historic castle town by the Sea of Japan. He visited a museum in honor of prestigious local figures and suggested that the museum should display more documents and items related to Yoichi Hatta, an engineer from Kanazawa who led a huge farm irrigation project in Taiwan when it was under Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945, Japanese media reported.

Later in the day, Lee met Ohi Chozaemon, a 77-year-old traditional ceramic artist, and made a ceramic mug for his good friend Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara. According to media reports, Lee wrote the Chinese character "Sincerity" () on the mug and signed his name next to it.

Lee and his family toured downtown Kanazawa yesterday morning and returned to Nagoya in the afternoon.

Lee is scheduled to visit another ancient city, Kyoto in western Japan, before flying back to Taipei from Osaka on Sunday.

This story has been viewed 4673 times.
TOP top