President Lee Teng-hui said Saturday he can build stable relations with China despite his efforts to raise Taiwan's profile in the international arena.
"When it comes to dealing with the Chinese Communists, I have got the strategy and confidence," Lee said at a ceremony to open his election campaign office in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan. "Only I can prevent Taiwan from falling victim to tensions."Lee is expected to win re-election when Taiwan holds its first democratic national vote on March 23.
Lee's ruling Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists on the mainland. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and generally protests all overtures that appear to treat it as an independent country.
China has increased its attacks on Lee since the United States granted him a visa to attend his college reunion last June. In response, China recalled its ambassador from Washington and conducted missile tests in seas near Taiwan.
On Saturday, Vice President Li Yuan-zu left for Haiti carrying a transit visa that, against China's protests, will allow him to change planes in the United States.
Li will land in San Francisco and take another plane to Miami, where he will leave for Haiti.