Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday sought to dispel a rumor that he had been a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member, saying he had never applied for membership.
“However, to say that I was never involved with the CCP would be an overstatement,” he said when asked about the rumor during a question-and-answer session with reporters during a visit to Green Island (綠島).
Lee said he wanted to erase any doubts once and for all since “my political career is over.”
As a senior at National Taiwan University who was concerned about Taiwan’s future, he organized the “New Democracy Association” with four other students from the university, Lee said.
The association was absorbed by the CCP not long afterwards, Lee said, adding that by that time he was disappointed with the CCP because “all it cared about was winning political power rather than people’s lives and the country’s future.”
Lee said he left the association and applied for a scholarship to study at Iowa State University.
He said he was very interested in the theory of socialism and understood “quite a bit” about communism, but he was not interested in the CCP.
Lee was detained and questioned by the Taiwan Garrison Command for a week in 1968 when he was a National Taiwan University professor. He said he was interrogated about his contacts with the CCP and the association.
Wu Ketai (吳克泰), a high-school classmate of Lee’s who went to China in the late 1940s and became a high-ranking CCP official, told Chinese media in the early 2000s that he had endorsed Lee’s membership application to the CCP in 1946 and that Lee had quit the party twice.
Wu, who became a member of the People’s Political Consultative Conference, died in 2004.
Lee’s alleged party membership has been reported on since he left office in 2000.