Mon, Feb 12, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Lee says name changes threaten peace

TAKING A STAND The former president likened the ruling party's move to Nazism and fascism, adding his voice to the chorus of disapproval from opposition figures

By Shih Hsiu-chuan, Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH AFP

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 (中華郵政) will change its name to "Taiwan Post Co" (臺灣郵政).

Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC) (中國石油) will be changed to "CPC Corporation, Taiwan" (台灣中油).

The China Shipbuilding Corp (CSBC, 中國造船) will change its name to "CSBC Corporation, Taiwan" (台灣國際造船).

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 (林郁方) said that the criticism of the name change campaign from the US "was not beyond expectation."

The US has long been under the impression that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) government hasn't really given up the idea of unilaterally changing the cross-strait status quo, Lin said.

Meanwhile, other opposition leaders had harsh words for the DPP regarding the move.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that the KMT would not exercise such "election gimmicks."

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.

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