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July 28, 2017

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Ex-President Lee questions Taiwan's sovereignty over Tiaoyutais

Former President Lee Teng-hui yesterday questioned Taiwan's sovereignty claims over the Tiaoyutais amid escalating tensions between Tokyo, Beijing and Taipei over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

"What kind of wife other people's sons marry is none of my business," said Lee, in an apparent reference to Tokyo's controversial move to nationalize the islands — which are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkakus in Japan.

"When did Taiwan fight a war with Japan to take the Tiaoyutais?" asked Lee rhetorically to dismiss Taipei's claims over the islands.

He also criticized President Ma Ying-jeou for landing on the nearby Pengjia Islet on Friday to assert Taiwan's sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais, saying that the incumbent head of state was "talking nonsense."

Lee, who retired as president in 2000, has often stressed that the Tiaoyutais belong to Japan, and that Taiwan should not get involved in a dispute between China and Japan.

He said the only issue with the islands is the fishing rights in the region, which is a matter to be handled and resolved by civilian fishery associations.

The government has more pressing matters to address, such as the economic problems of the nation, he said.

Taiwan and China have lodged strong protests against Japan's move to buy the islands from private owners.

China, warning of grave consequences resulting from the Japanese move, has reportedly sent two patrol ships to the islands, increasing the possibility of military conflicts.

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