Sun, Oct 23, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Lee and Lien trips highlight truth


While visiting the US, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) changed his itinerary and made an effort to see the Liberty Bell, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the US National Archives, which houses the original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell, cast in 1752, was intended to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges. Its most resonant tolling was on July 8, 1776, when the bell summoned the citizenry for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. This is what has made the Liberty Bell such a significant symbol for the US. Lee pointed out that, "Since freedom is a universal value, the Taiwanese should pursue it without having to be oppressed by others."

Lee went further, saying that "An average of 5,000 tourists come here every day to view the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Americans should be proud of their national heritage."

He also said that the documents enabled the American people to understand the importance of national identity.

However, he also said, it was a shame that Taiwan had failed to make its own nationals understand what direction the nation is pursuing. As a result, Taiwanese have yet to fully identify with their own country and do not know how hard their ancestors worked to make the nation what it is now.

As an octogenarian, Lee could quite easily ignore politics and spend more time with his family. However, he is going beyond what is expected of him for the welfare of the nation. And, despite China's overbearing oppression, Lee has overcome all obstacles to enhance the exposure of Taiwan in the international community during his trip to the US.

This is the second time that Lee has visited the US in recent years. Prior to this, in 1995, Lee visited his alma mater Cornell University and gave a speech entitled "The wishes of people are always in my heart," successfully helping the nation inform the American people of Taiwan's political and economic achievements. At that time, although Lee delivered the speech in his capacity as president, and had to conform to the constraints imposed by the idea of the Republic of China, yet he still sought to underline Taiwan as the focus of concern.

Now, although Lee is a former president, what he says and does is still constrained by political considerations. Nonetheless, he maintains that the whole nation should consider the importance of constitutional engineering and pursue the changing of the national title. After visiting the Liberty Bell and viewing the Declaration of Independence, to gain US support for Taiwan Lee stressed that what Taiwan is pursuing is no different from what the founding fathers of the US sought when declaring independence.

While Lee was making great efforts to promote Taiwan's democracy, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) visited China for the second time, this time with his family, and met with several high-ranking Chinese officials.

Lien is now heading in a direction exactly opposite to that of the Taiwanese people and Lee. Lien and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) received red carpet treatment during their respective China visits in April and May this year.

Lien has already stepped down from his KMT chairmanship, and Soong, although winning re-election as party chairman, is no longer a key figure, so both of them no longer have substantial power when it comes to influencing the nation's politics. That both of them have visited China a second time, and enjoyed fawning treatment within six months of their first visits, seems to indicate that they are hoping to use China to extend their political careers.

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