Taiwan: Playing with fire

Taiwan's President can't resist a good spark, but Asia is no place for nationalist pyromania

Lee Teng-Hui has a knack for lighting political fires. His allies say the 11-year President of Taiwan is simply a determined nationalist following the wishes of the vast majority of his electorate. But domestic critics call him a loose cannon, and his adversaries in Beijing regard him as a truly dangerous provocateur. While he likes to talk and often does so injudiciously, Lee is a shrewd politician consciously engaged in a high-risk game of chicken with China.

So Lee knows that in the delicate triangular relationship linking China, Taiwan and the U.S., the subtlest of words and actions can spark a...

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