Advisers to Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui believe Beijing will not go beyond verbal attacks in reaction to his remarks on 'state-to-state' relations, Taiwanese sources said yesterday. 'Lee's statement, though redefining ties with Beijing as 'special state-to-state' relations, has not gone beyond the line and named a new state title or declared independence,' a Taiwanese source close to Mr Lee's advisers said. 'This would provide infuriated Beijing with a weak excuse to use force.' In an interview with Germany's Deutsche Welle radio station last week, Mr Lee said: 'Since we conducted our constitutional reforms in 1991, we have redefined cross-strait relations as state-to-state, or at least as special state-to-state relations.' The statement triggered a domestic controversy, with some analysts and politicians saying the President had taken a 'strategic' step towards formal independence. There was also speculation that with presidential elections coming up in March, Mr Lee was trying to put his ambiguous mainland policy for the past 10 years 'down on public record' before he retired. 'This reflects that Lee has no trust that his heir [Kuomintang presidential candidate] Lien Chan will continue his existing mainland policy if elected,' the source said. Mr Lee was worried that his successor would 're-adjust his mainland policy to become more pro-reunification'. Mr Lee's advisers suggested his statement would help to 'confirm' the existing pro-independence policy. Taiwan's mainland affairs experts have been working for more than a year on a new strategy to counter Beijing's increasing pressure for political talks. A poll by Taiwan's United Daily found that 49 per cent of the 1,012 respondents said 'special state-to-state' could best describe cross-strait relations, while 30 per cent disagreed and 20 per cent had no opinion. Tang Shubei, executive vice-chairman of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), blasted Mr Lee, saying his remarks amounted to 'sabotage' of what had been achieved in quasi-official talks between ARATS and its Taiwanese counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation. Mr Tang would not say whether Mr Lee's remarks could affect a planned visit to Taiwan by ARATS chairman Wang Daohan in the autumn.