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Former president calls for changing ROC into new republic

2016/02/16 21:03:02

Former President Lee Teng-hui (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has called for a constitutional revision to change the Republic of China into a "new republic," saying that this is something that will have to be done sooner or later.

In a new book titled "Remaining Life: My Life Journey and the Road of Taiwan's Democracy" (餘生:我的生命之旅與台灣民主之路), Lee, 93, said that Taiwan, which has the official title of Republic of China, is not occupied by any other country, so there is no need for it to declare independence.

The book, a Chinese translation of his Japanese original "Lee Teng-hui's Words for Japan" that was published in 2014, was launched in Taipei Tuesday.

In chapter two, under the headline "Chinese History and 'Two Chinas'," Lee said the ROC militarily occupied Taiwan in 1949 and has effectively ruled the island since.

"Though (after World War II) Japan did not clearly say to whom it was returning Taiwan in the (1952) San Francisco Peace Treaty, from the standpoint of international law, Taiwan is indeed the territory of the ROC," he said.

As long as the people of Taiwan continue to maintain the ROC's sovereignty and international status, and change its constitution in such as way as to remake the ROC as a new republic, there is no need to declare Taiwan's independence, he said.

According to Lee, Taiwan should "further recognize the People's Republic of China" -- a move that would mean China (PRC) is a "new country" while Taiwan (ROC) is an "old" one.

The ROC was established in 1912. The PRC came into being after Mao Zedong's communist troops drove Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist army to Taiwan in 1949.

The PRC split from the ROC in 1949, Lee said, adding that while the ROC has always been in existence, the PRC is a "new country" that is a splinter off the ROC.

Now that there is a strong sense of identifying Taiwan with the ROC, apparently the current ROC is no longer its former self and should be seen as its "second republic," he said.

He said he does not know when calls for a new republic will be made, but added that "I am sure this is something that will have to be done some day in the future."

In his book, Lee pointed out that he was aware of China's close watching of Taiwan -- which will wake the Chinese up to the "profound contradiction" between their goal and their direction.

Lee said he is also aware that Taiwan's democratization experience does not belong to Taiwanese alone. "I would hope that the Chinese will take Taiwan's democratization process as a model in their attempts to unify their country," he said.

He urged China to "expand and deepen" its democratic reforms, using wisdom and the ability to march toward an "open and multicultural society."

Lee, Taiwan's president from 1988 to 2000, said he does not know how much longer he will live, but he will dedicate the remainder of his life to Taiwan's "second democratization."

(By Lu Hsin-hui and S.C. Chang)
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