Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Lee says magazine twisted interview

`FAKE ISSUE' The former president took out an ad in the `Liberty Times' that said the debate over independence was a way for political parties to manipulate the public

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday rebutted a magazine report that he had given up advocating Taiwan's independence, accusing the magazine of misinterpreting comments he made in an exclusive interview.

The Chinese-language tabloid Next Magazine on Wednesday quoted Lee as saying that he had never been an advocate of official independence for the country and that he hoped to visit China.

Lee responded in an advertisement titled "Lee Teng-hui insisted on the correction of Taiwan's name, establishing a new constitution and normalization of the country."

In the advertisement, Lee said that he had not said he had given up advocating official independence and had not expressed a wish to visit China.

"Taiwan is already an independent country. Why should we deny ourselves and go back to seek independence?" Lee said in the ad, which was published in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper).

Lee gave a similar clarification during an interview with cable station TVBS.

Saying that Next Magazine's article had simplified the statements from his interview and misled readers with a sensational headline, Lee argued that he had always supported seeking a change in Taiwan's name and adopting a new constitution, but he urged political parties not to create more conflicts and divisions on the independence issue.

"Taiwan's independence is a fake issue, and politicians use it to cover their ambitions and power struggles," Lee said, condemning the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for "creating an illusion" by claiming to seek independence, and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for allying with China.

Lee also rebutted the report that he had proposed welcoming Chinese investments into the country and said that he had suggested that the government should try to attract more foreign investment, in addition to encouraging domestic investment, to prevent Taiwanese businesses from investing too much in China.

"I am not a capricious person. The society is changing, and so my priorities change, too, in order to solve the problems," he said.

Facing mounting complaints and opposition from supporters, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉) said the party's spiritual leader would continue to clarify the issue through more interviews.

Tsai Shu-mei (蔡淑美), director of the Friends of Lee Teng-hui Association, a group formed by Lee's supporters to seek official independence, acknowledged that some members were disappointed by Lee's comments and wanted to disband the association, but added that she would continue to communicate with members about Lee's ideas.

Lin said that Lee would attend the TSU's dinner party on Thursday and clarify his comments to party members.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Society yesterday challenged Lee's remark that Taiwan was an "independent country," saying that Taiwan was actually just an "independent political entity."

In a statement, the society said that seeking official independence was not a regressive action and there was no other route to take.

"By saying that Taiwan is not yet an independent country, we are not trying to degrade Taiwan's status. It's a crucial reality, which reflects the need to establish an independent country," the society said.

It said that because Taiwan had not been able to shed the name "Republic of China [ROC]" and replace the Constitution, this has contributed to Taiwan being merely an independent political "entity" struggling for survival, it added.

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