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Xi Jinping and Tsai Ing-wen have been on the opposite side of an existential argument since it was first posed by Lee Teng-hui more than 20 years ago. (Nikkei montage/source photos by AP/Reuters/Getty Images) 
China up close

Xi Jinping's red line on Taiwan goes back to Lee Teng-hui

Chinese leader now confronts 'two states' protege in popular Tsai Ing-wen

KATSUJI NAKAZAWA, Nikkei senior staff writer | China

TOKYO -- Few in 1999 would have expected Xi Jinping and Tsai Ing-wen to be leading China and Taiwan today. But in a sense, they were already facing off across the waters back then thanks to another figure: Tsai's mentor Lee Teng-hui.

Twenty-one years on, Lee is dead and troubling signs are again appearing over cross-strait relations.

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