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Wed, Jan 12, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Book claims Lee was communist

THE PRESIDENT'S PAST A new book says that President Lee was briefly a member of the Chinese Communist Party 50-odd years ago. Officials dismiss the allegations

By Oliver Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hsu Yuan-tao,left, son of former vice premier Hsu Ching-chung appears at the release of his book Remove the Makeup of Lee Teng-hui at a press conference with his good friend Su Shun-kuo, right, holding a copy of the book .

PHOTO:CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES.

A book released yesterday has added new details to what the author says was President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) days as a communist some 50 years ago. While officials at the Presidential Office declined to comment yesterday, they had already denied the allegations when part of the book was unofficially released last month.

The new book by Hsu Yuan-tao (徐淵濤), the title of which means Remove the Makeup of Lee Teng-hui (替李登輝卸妝) identifies Lee Hsun-shan (李薰山) as the person who introduced President Lee to the communist party in 1947.

Lee Hsun-shan, now 80, appeared at the book launch yesterday, but was reluctant to confirm directly whether or not what the book claims had occurred.

According to the author, Lee submitted his application form and autobiography to the communist party through Lee Hsun-shan, who turned them over to Liu Chao-kuang (劉沼光).

Liu was then a teaching assistant at the National Taiwan University's medical college. Both Lee Hsun-shan and Lee Teng-hui were students there at the time.

The application was approved in October 1947 by Tsai Hsiao-chien (蔡孝乾), the Taiwan branch chief of the Chinese Communist Party, the book claims.

At the end of the press conference, Lee Hsun-shan was mobbed by reporters who repeatedly asked him to confirm that it was he who had brought Lee Teng-hui into the communist party.

Although he refused to give any straight answers, he did not directly deny the claim.

Asked whether the book's account about himself and Lee Teng-hui was true, he said: "More or less."

Asked what his relationship with Lee Teng-hui had been back then, he said: "I met him only at the time when we were both in a group called the `Association of New Democracy Comrades (新民主同志會),'" he said.

The group consisted of Lee Teng-hui, Lee Hsun-shan and three other members, and was under the National Taiwan University branch of the Chinese Communist Party, according to the book.

When the group was formed in the early part of 1947, Lee Teng-hui was not yet a formal party member.

But Lee took the initiative to quit the communist party in 1948, only months after he gained his membership, on the grounds that he did not feel comfortable in the organization, the book said.

It is not the first time that Lee was said to be a one-time communist, but such rumors have been consistently denied by officials.

The presidential office refused to comment further on the book.

"We are not going to comment on a single word in the book," said Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超), a spokesman for the presidential office.

"We have said that what is in the book is groundless ... you only call me to prove that you have tried to balance your reporting," Ting added.

The author of the book is a son of Hsu Ching-chung (徐慶鐘), former vice premier and mentor to Lee Teng-hui. The two families were close, but Lee and the elder Hsu, then vice premier, had a falling-out in 1981 over a disagreement on agricultural policy when Lee was provincial governor.

"I only want to let people know what kind of person Lee really is," the younger Hsu said.

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