Death speculation of ‘godfather of Taiwan secessionism’ discussed by netizens

By Zhao Yusha Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/29 22:31:00

Former Taiwan regional leader Lee Teng-hui File photo: VCG

A Taipei hospital dismissed rumors on Wednesday claiming that former Taiwan leader and key initiator of Taiwan-separatism Lee Teng-hui had died after he get choked while drinking milk in February, and the report has brought discussions among the mainland netizens as Lee is an infamous separatist.

The Taipei Veterans General Hospital said that Lee is not in ideal health, but he is under treatment, and his condition is not as bad as some have speculated, local media reported. 

Lee, who took office in 1988 and retired in 2000, has long been decried as the "godfather of Taiwan secessionism" by the public, and his flattering attitude toward Japan and the denial of his own Chinese identity was heavily criticized by Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and across the globe. 

Chinese mainland netizens also noticed the reports. Some of them said "We hope the report is not true, because we want him to receive legal punishment for his treason until we reunify the island one day in the future."

Lee was a member of the pro-reunification Kuomintang (KMT), but he later betrayed the KMT's principles to support localism and separatism. Even after he left office, Lee was vocal about separating the island of Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. 

The separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) treats him with great respect to thank him for his support at the early stage, otherwise separatist sentiments would not have had an opening to be backed by a major party.

Lee can be seen as a "sinner for the Chinese nation," Yang Lixian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center of Cross-Straits Relations, told the Global Times, noting that Lee was brainwashed by the Japanese invaders when Japan occupied the island.

The Japanese rulers planted "the seed of secessionism" among the people in Taiwan to serve Japan's colonial rule before the end of World War II, as a sense of Chinese identity among the people would make it difficult for Japan to rule the island, Yang said. 

Lee is a typical traitor of Chinese nations, who hid among the KMT and cheated his leaders to gain power in the 1980s, said the expert.

His separatist tendencies in the 1990s almost caused a military conflict between the mainland and the island, after he broke with the 1992 Consensus and the one-China principle to promote separatism for the island.

Now, as reunification of Taiwan is becoming a more and more irreversible trend for the island, separatists like Lee have begun to realize his previous goal of building a "state-to-state relationship" with the Chinese mainland has already gone up in smoke, Yang said. 

Speculations of Lee's death began circulating on Tuesday, and were fueled by media reports that Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen and her deputy Lai Ching-te had called off their original plans to visit Lee in hospital. They stayed there for 40 minutes, Taiwan media reported. Later, Lee's wife Tseng Wen-hui also reportedly visited Lee.  

The 98-year-old infamous separatist veteran was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital in early February after choking while drinking a glass of milk. At the time, there were rumors that Lee had died and that he had contracted the coronavirus. 

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