Lee Teng-hui denies promoting Taiwan independence

Lee Teng-hui denies promoting Taiwan independence
Bevin Chu
January 31, 2007

Has Godfather of Taiwan independence Lee Teng-hui really changed his mind about Taiwan independence?

Below is a United Daily News article on Lee Teng-hui’s apparent recantation of Taiwan independence. I have translated it into English, FYI.

It offers quite a few clues as to what’s going on in his head.

For example, Lee stressed that:

“Taiwan is already independent. The important point now is to allow Taiwan to become a normal nation. For example, amending Article 4 of the constitution pertaining to the nation’s territorial sovereignty and other questions. These must all be amended or solved by means of public referenda.”

Does that sound like recanting his commitment to Taiwan independence to you? It doesn’t sound like it to me.

My own take is that it makes no difference what Lee’s motives might be. The mere fact that the Godfather of Taiwan independence feels compelled to pay lip service to at least some Pan Blue political premises and to at least some Pan Blue policy prescriptions amounts to a major setback for the Taiwan independence movement.

Lee’s so-called “recantation” is enormously harmful to the cause of Taiwan independence, and enormously beneficial to the cause of Chinese reunification, but only if Pan Blue leaders have the presence of mind to take advantage of this “gift from heaven.”

Lee Teng-hui denies promoting Taiwan independence, wants to visit the mainland, praises Hu Jintao

United Daily Evening News, Yang Shengju, Taipei


During a January 29 interview with Next magazine, former president Lee Teng-hui made an unprecedented declaration that he is not the Godfather of Taiwan independence. “I am not an advocate of Taiwan independence, nor have I ever advocated Taiwan independence.” Lee Teng-hui even suggested that “[mainland] Chinese capital” as well as mainland tourists should be allowed to come to Taiwan. He also indicated that numerous organizations and individuals hoped he would visit the mainland, and that if possible, “I would like to visit the mainland and travel the same route that Confucius took 5000 years ago.” [Correction: Confucius lived 2000 years ago, not 5000 years ago.]


Lee Teng-hui had no sooner handed the chairmanship of the Taiwan Solidarity Union over to Huang Kun-hui, when he announced a change to a “left of center” political path. He also accepted an interview in which he made clear that he is not the Godfather of Taiwan independence, and instead indicated a desire to visit the mainland. His about face was so swift it left Taiwan’s political arena no time to react.


The Pursuit of Taiwan independence is Dangerous

Lee Teng-hui made clear that the assumption that he was the Godfather of Taiwan independence had no basis. “I have published 25 books. In which one of them have I ever pushed Taiwan independence?” “I have no need to pursue Taiwan independence, because Taiwan is already a sovereign and independent country.”

[Correction: No one on Taiwan has any need to pursue Taiwan independence, because Taiwan is already a province of the Republic of China.]

Lee Teng-hui was even more opposed to the ruling party treating Taiwan independence as a political goal to pursue. “The pursuit of Taiwan independence is regressive, moreover it is dangerous, because it not only demotes Taiwan to the status of a non-independent country, it undermines “Taiwan-centricism,” and creates a multitude of problems for America and the mainland.”




The Two States Theory was not his Original Intention

He also criticized the Democratic Progressive Party for making “a phony agenda out of the pursuit of Taiwan independence.” The Kuomintang then responds by waving the anti Taiwan independence flag. Actually the Blues and Greens are merely using reunification vs. independence issue. “Reunification and independence are both false agendas. The only thing real is power struggle.”

Lee Teng-hui also indicated that the “Two States Theory” was not his original meaning. His expression was “Special State to State relations.” This is not a Taiwan independence position.




Talk of Authoring a New Constitution is basically deceiving the Common People

He stressed that Taiwan is already independent. The important point now is to allow Taiwan to become a normal nation. For example, amending Article 4 of the constitution, which pertains to the nation’s territorial sovereignty and other questions. These must all be amended or resolved by public referenda. But it is nearly impossible to do this at the moment. “The Democratic Progressive Party says one thing but does another. The threshold for a constitutional amendment is too high. A public referendum is beset with difficulties. Therefore screaming about a new constitution is basically deceiving the common people.”



The Avoid Haste, Exercise Patience Policy does not mean Saying No to the Mainland

During the interview Lee Teng-hui said he was extremely worried that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had no channels of communication. He also criticized the ruling Democratic Progressive Party government for adopting its “Aggressive Opening” Policy as “opening a road to exit, but none to return.” “On top of which, their policy flip-flops constantly. Aggressive Opening becomes Aggressive Management. This is simply absurd!” “Taiwan is like a barrel of water from which the water continuously flows out but never comes back. How are the common people supposed to live?” Lee Teng-hui indicated that during his term as president the “Avoid Haste, Exercise Patience” Policy he proposed did not forbid relations with the mainland. Economic exchange is bidirectional. The Democratic Progressive Party has turned it into something unidirectional.”



Hu Jintao may not say much, but he’s a Man of Substance

Lee Teng-hui proposed more boldness in allowing [mainland] Chinese capital to enter Taiwan, and mainlanders to come to Taiwan as tourists. He said “Don’t treat everyone who comes from the mainland as a spy. Why don’t you have the courage to deal with such matters? They should be allowed to come as consumers, enabling Taiwan to become a place where global brands gather.”

Lee Teng-hui’s attitude toward [mainland] China changed from critical to open-minded. He even praised current Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s solid background as a water conservationist. “He says little. He doesn’t indulge in idle talk. He simply acts. He has adopted a soft approach to the reunification of Taiwan. He avoids an excessively hard approach, allowing the people of Taiwan to become less defensive, unlike Jiang Zemin, who accomplished little.”





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