Mon, Aug 04, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lee lambastes economic integration

CHINA Closer ties with the mainland might benefit some businesspeople, but it would leave most Taiwanese much worse off, the former president told students

By Roger Liu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui, seated, and TSU legislator Liao Pen-yen, front row, second from right, take a group photo with students participating in a leadership training camp in Taipei County's Sanhsia Township yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Further economic integration between Taiwan and China would not benefit Taiwan, former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday.

Speaking at a seminar for young people organized by the TSU, Lee said that basic economic theory suggested that a closer relationship with China would be detrimental to Taiwan.

As the two economies integrate, Lee said, there would an equalization between the factors of production -- land, labor, capital, brainpower, etc. -- and prices.

"If we keep strengthening the economic ties and integration between Taiwan and China," Lee said, "real-estate prices, interest rates and salary levels in this nation will slump and finally fall to the same level as China's."

With his young audience in mind, Lee said: "With more and more Chinese university graduates and workers flooding into Taiwan, it would be harder and harder for you to find a job."

He also pointed to the examples of Germany and Hong Kong, both of which have experienced severe economic problems in the wake of unification.

"Those who support the so-called `common market' concept are stupid people in my eyes," Lee said.

Further economic integration would in fact only benefit those businessmen with interests in China, Lee said. "However, the majority of the workforce, including farmers, white-collar workers, blue-collar workers, soldiers, teachers and civil servants would not get a dime," he said.

"The middle class is the stabilizing power in Taiwan. Nothing can be done if you don't look after them," Lee said, "because it is they who tend to defend values of democracy and freedom, which are the core values of Taiwan."

Lee asked the students participating in the seminar to mull over "meaning of the existence of Taiwan's subjectivity."

"Although we are of different generations," Lee told his audience, "we all have to face the same threats from China together. So you must learn how to resist bravely the political, economic, psychological and military threats from China, and learn not to surrender to Chinese hegemony because of its pressure."

Citing Abraham Lincoln's speech that a nation could not be both "half slave and half free," Lee described Beijing's "one country, two systems" concept as evil..

"It denies the given rights of Taiwanese to choose their future for themselves. The concept not only threatens people in Taiwan, but others elsewhere as well," Lee said.

"Some people in Taiwan have been infected with the `one-China' virus, and they indulge in wishful thinking that, if we concede to China politically, there will be peace. But ... peace will not come. Pre-World War II Europe is the best example to show that appeasement only brings war. it shows an aggressor that threats work," he said.

"In [the Old Testament book of] Exodus, the Israelites complained to Moses that the escape from Egypt only brought pain and turbulence. They asked to go back to Egypt," said Lee. "But should we go back and live a life of slavery?" he said.

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