Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has criticized the government's controversial decision to drop "China" from the names of state enterprises, warning the move could endanger peace.
Lee questioned the motives of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a speech on Saturday.
"In order to whip up sentiment of their supporters, [the DPP] have looked to hatred as did the Nazis, fascists and communists ... they brought disaster to the world," Lee said, adding that the measures could cause social unrest.
"The changes should be done step by step and quietly, rather than done while the polls approach," Lee said, in a reference to legislative elections in December and presidential polls next year.
State-run postal, petroleum and shipbuilding companies on Friday decided to drop "China" and add "Taiwan" in their names, despite strong opposition from labor union leadership, who have strong ties to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Following Friday's board meetings, Chunghwa Post Co (
Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC) (
The China Shipbuilding Corp (CSBC,
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the new names will prevent the firms from being mistaken for Chinese ones.
DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun yesterday said the name change campaign facilitates the development of a national identity. He added that the public's Taiwanese awareness will grow stronger as the people discuss the matter more.
The government's move has touched off strong criticism from both the KMT and Washington, fearing such steps could fire tensions with Beijing.
"We do not support administrative steps by the Taiwan authorities that would appear to change Taiwan's status unilaterally or move toward independence," the State Department said in a statement. "The United States does not, for instance, support changes in terminology for entities administered by the Taiwan authorities."
Yu said it was "inappropriate" for the US to interfere, as the campaign was part of Taiwan's domestic affairs.
KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (
The US has long been under the impression that President Chen Shui-bian's (
Meanwhile, other opposition leaders had harsh words for the DPP regarding the move.
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
KMT Taipei branch members expressed concerns about the policy during a meeting with Ma, worrying that the KMT could lose elections to the DPP if it failed to respond to the focus on independence issues.
"It's meaningless to manipulate the issue of localization. Whoever makes contributions to Taiwan is the most `localized,'" Ma told party members at the meeting held at the Taipei International Convention Center.
In response to some party members "concerns that the KMT is too moderate," Ma said the party should continue to play the role of the responsible opposition.
"We will get tough when we have to," he added.
Pan-blue legislators urged their leaders to come up with a plan to deal with the name-change campaign.