Taiwan President 'sinner in history'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 July, 1999, 12:00am

Mainland official media stepped up their assault on Taiwan's President last night calling him a 'sinner in history' and a 'manipulator' exploiting frayed Sino-US ties for personal gain.

'Lee Teng-hui has made himself a sinner in history by attempting to split the motherland when he redefined cross-strait relations as 'state-to-state',' Xinhua said.

Mr Lee was 'manipulating power for personal ends and lacked sincerity', the commentary said, adding that he was exploiting frayed Sino-US ties in a bid to 'continue to influence Taiwan politics after he steps down'.

Ties between Beijing and Washington have been damaged by accusations that Beijing stole American nuclear secrets over the past 20 years and by Nato's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in May.

The commentary said Mr Lee 'shouts out for democracy, but ignores Taiwan's desires for stability, peace and hopes for improved relations with Beijing'.

Meanwhile, a Taiwan newspaper poll said Mr Lee's popularity had slid to its lowest level in a year following his suggestion that Beijing deal on a 'state-to-state' basis with Taiwan.

The poll, conducted on Thursday by the mass-circulation United Daily News - a longtime critic of Mr Lee - said the President's popularity had fallen to 53 per cent, the lowest since last July.

The poll showed 46 per cent backed his categorisation of Taiwan-mainland relations as 'special state-to-state' ties rather than the murky old standby of 'political entities'. About 27 per cent opposed the move.