Tue, Mar 09, 2004 - Page 5 News List

War of words over Martin Lee's trip to US intensifying


A top Chinese official has intensified his criticism of a Hong Kong democratic leader by branding the man's late father an enemy of the Communist Party.

In an angry exchange with Hong Kong journalists in Beijing, China's Vice Commerce Minister An Min (安民) called pro-democracy Legislator Martin Lee (李柱銘) a "traitor," then attacked Lee's father, Li Yin-wo (李彥和), for his opposition to the Communists.

"What sort of person is Lee Chu-ming? His father fought against the Communist Party," An said, speaking to reporters on Sunday outside the session of the National People's Congress.

Beijing and its allies have recently mounted a fierce verbal campaign against Lee, a founder of Hong Kong's Democratic Party. Lee, along with three other pro-democracy figures from the territory, attended meetings in Washington last week with senators and Bush administration officials.

In response to An's verbal attack, Lee said An apparently didn't know much about his father. Lee described his father as a "very patriotic" man who fought with China's army against Japan in World War II, although he later found himself on the losing side as he fought with the Chinese Nationalist Party against the Communists.

Lee called An's comments reminiscent "of the verbal attacks in the awful days of the Cultural Revolution."

"It's obviously the sort of thing that Hong Kong people cannot accept," Lee said. "This tactic can only bring fear in the community."

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong edition of the state-run China Daily newspaper ran a lengthy article yesterday that attacked Lee as a "running dog of colonialists." The editorial accused him of "begging support from foreign forces" with his testimony before the US Senate and said his appearance may delay democracy in the territory.

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