Fri, Nov 08, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Lee admits to fling with communism

MEMBERSHIP The former president said he had joined the communists at a time when young Taiwanese embraced the party out of hatred for the KMT government

By Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) acknowledged yesterday that he had joined the Chinese Communist Party in the 1940s -- but said he did so in order to realize his ideas for Taiwan.

In an interview with a local cable-TV station yesterday, Lee said he has long been a strong opponent of communism because he understands it so well that he knows the political theory is doomed to fail.

Lee's interview came after a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday that the former president had joined the Communists in 1946 through the introduction of Wu Ke-tai (吳克泰).

The newspaper story was based on an interview with Wu, a retired Chinese party official, who said he had meet Lee during a visit to Taipei in March.

Lee's admission triggered an immediate furor in the Legislative Yuan, with TSU and DPP lawmakers defending him and the pan-blue camp attacking him.

Pan-green lawmakers said Lee's Communist Party association was due to his love for Taiwan while PFP and KMT lawmakers accused him of adopting a double standard.

KMT Legislator Cheng Feng-shih (鄭逢時) said it was contradictory for Lee, as a former Communist Party member, to blame the pan-blue camp for attempting to sell out Taiwan by colluding with China.

In his books, Lee has said that he is from the era when the theories of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin were fashionable and Marx's Das Kapital was popular among college students.

According to Lee, young Taiwan-ese embraced communism in the late 1940s because they detested the KMT's alien rule.

The loathing of the KMT intensified, Lee said, after the 228 Incident.

He said he joined the KMT in 1971 because "the safest place is the most dangerous place."

Lee acknowledged yesterday that he had met with Wu earlier this year, but denied most of Wu's comments about the meeting.

The Taiwan-born Wu moved to China in 1949 when he was 24-years old. He was already a Communist Party member.

He had not seen Lee in 55 years, until the two men met this year, reportedly at the former president's home in Taipei.

Wu said that Lee's manners and the way he talked were still the same, but his way of thinking had changed tremendously.

Wu said that he was surprised by Lee's fondness for Japan and the US, given Lee's Communist Party membership.

"As his old friend, I had to tell him he would lead himself into a risky direction," Wu said.

In his interview, Lee was dismissive of his old friend. He said Wu was simply trying to promote himself by talking about Lee.

He also hinted that that Wu's political leanings might not be so strong, saying "the ideals held by communists no longer exist."

Lee said the main reason Wu returned to Taiwan was to claim compensation for his father, who was a victim of the KMT's White Terror era.

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