Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Former Premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) attended an academic meeting on "the history of the Chinese people's war against Japan" in Nanjing Thursday, but his mere presence in China has alarmed Taiwan's current government, which is completely shut out of any dialogue with the Beijing authorities.
Mainland Affairs Minister Chang Hsiao-yueh (張小月) called on all Taiwanese citizens to "watch their words and deeds" and to "maintain national sovereignty and dignity" while in China.
Hau said he was present at the privately-sponsored meeting because he agrees with its purpose to seek the academic truth about that period of history from the standpoint of "the whole Chinese nation."
"This should not be pursued from a partisan or an individual's stance," said Hau, who was Taiwan's premier from 1990-1993, after serving as the chief of the general staff (1981-1989) and defense minister (1989- 1990).
Still, Chang urged him to "beware of the impression his presence in China might create in Taiwanese society" where people here are increasingly upset by China's recent suppression of Taiwan's international space and arrest of a Taiwanese human rights and democracy activist.
Chang said seeking historical truth means emphasizing the importance of peace, so mainland Chinese activities commemorating the war against Japan should "fully and objectively" present historical facts -- which include the Republic of China's role in fighting against Japanese invaders.
"We're opposed to any attempts to manipulate or distort history for political purposes or using the meeting as a tool for its united front tactic," said Chang.
Earlier in the day, the Executive Yuan passed a draft amendment that introduces more stringent penalties for Taiwan's retired high-ranking military officers and senior political appointees who engage in political activities in China.
Under the draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, former high ranking military brass and political appointees are prohibited from participating in political activities in China for a period of 15 years after retirement.
Those found in violation of the regulation could have their monthly pension payments suspended or face a fine of up to NT$5 million (US$167,000).
Hau has written several books, including ones looking into the role his party, Taiwan's former ruling party, the Kuomintang, played in fighting the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War and its significant contributions to the Allies' efforts in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
The academic forum Hau is attending coincides with the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. More than 3 million Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded in the war. Hau, like the Kuomintang, are keen to ensure people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait understand that a vast majority of the war against Japanese invaders was fought by the Kuomintang's forces, not the troops from the Chinese Communist Party.