Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Lee dismisses report with a play on words

SAME STANDARD The former president said he had never advocated that Taiwan be independent because the nation is an independent state anyway

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday said he had never advocated Taiwanese independence because Taiwan is already an independent country.

Lee made the remarks in an interview with cable station TVBS yesterday afternoon. The station broadcast the interview last night.

"I've never advocated things like pursuing Taiwan's independence in terms of law," he said. "It is wrong for an independent nation to seek independence."

"Taiwan is independent. It owns its sovereignty. How can we go back and pursue independence?" he asked. "The conflict [between pro-independence and pro-unification camps] has continued for the past seven or eight years, but what about the livelihoods of the public? None of these problems were solved."

Lee's remarks came as a clarification to comments attributed to him in an interview with Next Magazine.

The latest edition of the magazine, which hit newsstands yesterday, quoted Lee as saying that he had never been an advocate of independence.

The article prompted speculation that Lee might have changed his stance on the matter, given that Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-hui (黃昆輝) announced last week that the TSU would adopt a "left of middle," or a more moderate, approach and that the party may change its name to reflect its goal of social democracy.

Taiwan is not a normal country yet, Lee told TVBS. He said the Constitution does not exist for the sake of Taiwan today and there was a need for the nation to change its title.

"We have to do these things now if we have the opportunity," he said.

The magazine article also quoted Lee as saying that he was in favor of allowing Chinese investors to invest in Taiwan, and that he would welcome opening Taiwan to Chinese tourists to correct Taiwan's "overdependence" on China's economy.

In the TVBS interview last night, Lee said more Chinese tourists should visit Taiwan because the "economic [relationship] should be two-way instead of one-way," but he said this relationship should be "state-to-state" in nature.

Earlier, Huang said that it was wrong to claim that Lee would like to accelerate Chinese investment for its own sake.

Lee believed that Taiwan had suffered too much capital flight to China and that the trend should be reversed, he said.

Huang said that Lee and the TSU's approach had always been a "Taiwan-centered" one.

The magazine also said Lee had been mulling over how to resolve the chasm between the pan-green and the pan-blue camps since last March and that he hoped the TSU, under Huang's leadership, would become Taiwan's new middle force.

Lee was also quoted as saying that he had been on poor terms with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for some time.

Lee said that he was different from Chen because he "believes in God and God's will cannot be betrayed," Lee was quoted as saying.

"In God's eyes, ministers and the believers are the same. When you die, you will be tried on whether you really insisted on justice when you were alive," Lee was quoted as saying when discussing his comments to several pro-Chen Presbyterian ministers last year during the period in which former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) was leading a campaign aimed at forcing Chen to resign.

Lee was also quoted as saying that he thought KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not show "enough courage and daring" when he was criticized by others.

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