Both Taiwanese president-elect Tsai Ing-wen and Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times have criticised former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui for controversial remarks made in his new book entitled Remaining Life: My Life Journey and the Road of Taiwan’s Democracy.

In the book, Lee referred to Tsai’s comments about “maintaining the status quo” with Beijing and said that the status quo was Taiwan not being a part of China and remaining independent. This meant that Taiwan’s Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China were separate entities, RTHK reported him as saying.

Lee Teng-hui.

Lee, 93, served as the president of Republic of China and Chairman of Kuomintang from 1988 to 2000. He has been dubbed the “father of Taiwan’s democracy”. The book was first published in Japanese in 2014 and was only recently translated into Chinese and released in Taiwan.

His comments were blasted by Global Times, which said that Lee did not respect history. The paper also said Lee was disregarding the 1943 Cairo Declaration, which it said handed Taiwan back to China.

‘The stupidest thing ever’

Lee also said in his book that the “Diaoyu Islands do not belong to Taiwan, this is an undisputed truth” and criticised former premier Yu Shyi-kun for including the islands under the administration of Toucheng Township, Yilan, which was “the stupidest thing ever”, according to Ming Pao.

Both the Taiwan Presidential Office and president-elect Tsai Ing-wen have hit back at Lee’s comments. The Presidential Office said Lee’s remarks “humiliated the country and insulted its sovereignty”, and were “unacceptable”.

DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen. File Photo: Wikimedia.

Tsai also responded to the comments, saying on Wednesday, “The stance of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has always been clear on the matter; the Diaoyu Islands are part of Taiwan.”

A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 2012. Photo: Reuters/Kyodo

Tsai has also asked all parties to exercise self-restraint amid increasing tensions over South China Sea and said that the issue should be resolved peacefully. It was earlier reported that China has deployed a surface-to-air missile system on one of its contested islands in the South China Sea.

‘Intertwining fates’

Lee said that the fates of Taiwan and Japan were intertwined and that if Japan underwent a “rebirth”, the same would happen to Taiwan. He also believed that there was no country more suitable to be the leader of Asia than Japan, BBC reported.

Lee was also highly critical of incumbent Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and said it was under his rule that the Sunflower Movement broke out and the DPP regained power.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.