Sun, Aug 24, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Change of name must happen: Lee

RECTIFICATION Taiwan has to abandon the Republic of China name tag if it is to have a prosperous future, the former president said

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui, far left, who is also the chief convener of the ``call Taiwan, Taiwan'' movement, watches as one of its members waves a flag at a flag presentation ceremony at the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan's future depends on Taiwanese realizing the importance of changing the county's name, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday.

Speaking at a preliminary meeting for groups arranging a massive rally in Taipei on Sept. 6 in support of changing the country's name from Republic of China to Taiwan, Lee also advocated major changes to the Constitution to bring it into line with the reality of Taiwan's situation.

This, he said, was vital to gain more international recognition, as well as to fight attempts by the pan-blue camp, in collaboration with China, to suppress the development of Taiwanese identity.

"Although Taiwan is a sovereign state, very few countries in the world recognize us especially in face of China's unceasing bullying of our international participation. Rectifying our nation's name to Taiwan could boost Taiwan's international standing and normalize Taiwan's national development," Lee said.

Lee said that he felt sure that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) shared his ideal, though as president he had to refrain from saying so in public.

"I believe the current president must identify with my ideals?I am already retired, so I feel free to speak my mind and speak for him," Lee said.

Lee said the need to change the country's name was also intended to reinforce the cohesion of Taiwan-centered values since Taiwan faces serious challenges domestically from the old KMT authoritarian regime which is trying to stage a comeback.

"Some people have lived in Taiwan for 50 years, but only at election time do they proclaim that they oppose the `one country, two systems' formula, and shout slogans like `Taiwan First.' But their words are said under the `one-China' umbrella," Lee said, alluding to the pan-blue alliance's presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰) and his running mate PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

"Their action is an apparent collaboration with China to limit the development of Taiwan's identity," Lee said.

Though in his 80s, Lee yesterday pledged he would continue to fight for Taiwan.

"The opposition politicians have used all possible ways to deceive the Taiwan public and attack me. But I won't succumb," Lee said.

As the eighth and ninth president of the ROC, Lee said "some people must be confused why I would support the name-rectification campaign. It is because in reality, international society doesn't recognize the existence of the ROC ... and we have to accept this fact and work on the development of Taiwan."

"The ROC Constitution needs to be revised as well. It still claims jurisdiction of a total of 35 provinces in China. How could it be possible for Taiwan to rule 35 Chinese provinces," Lee said.

A staunch supporter of the localization trend in Taiwan, Lee yesterday urged support for Chen's reelection bid to deepen Taiwan's democratic development.

Lee said the opposition camp's criticism of Chen's economic performance was lacking in substance. Pointing out that none of the pan-blue top brass had ever had to steer the country through a global recession -- until 2000 Taiwan had not experienced a serious recession for nearly 30 years -- Lee said he was skeptical that they could have managed any better than Chen.

Lee also lashed out at the combination of Lien and Soong on the presidential ticket and compared it to "a reopened restaurant with an old menu."

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