Taiwan’s Lee Teng-hui as Former Communist in 1996 Taiwan Presidential Campaign Leaflet and Novel

1996 Taiwan anti Lee Tenghui leaflet

This sheet (what we would call opposition research!)  was circulated by Lee Teng-hui’s opposition during the Taiwan presidential campaign of 1996. The sheet accused Lee Teng-hui of having been a member of Taiwan’s underground communist party in the late 1940s and having betrayed two of his fellow students (later executed) to the KMT government. The Wiki article on Lee says that he admitted to having been a member of the Communist Party in Taiwan (or its direct forerunner) because of his political   naiveté and hatred for the Chinese Nationalist Party that had come from the Mainland and taken over Taiwan.

A fictionalized political biography The False Disciple by Chang Ta-chun 张大春 describes a character, apparently Lee Teng-hui, goes into considerable detail about this incident and the complex relationship Lee had with Chiang Kai-shek’s son, security chief and subsequently successor as Republic of China on Taiwan president Chiang Ching-kuo. Chiang Ching-kuo, like Lee, was a former communist. During his long stay in the USSR, CCK believed in communism at one day, although according to the Wiki biographical article on CCK, his application to become a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was never accepted.

A fictionalized historical (ahistorical? ) novel on the political life of Lee Tenghui, also examines former ROC President Chiang Ching Kuo’s motivations as Taiwan society changed during the decades after the KMT assumed control of Taiwan in 1945. Chiang Ching Kuo spent many years as a student and then a factory manager in the Soviet Union, becoming a convinced Communist before Stalin returned him to Chiang Kai-shek. He must have gone through some deprogramming! He later became head of CKS’s security services and eventually succeeded CKS as the leader of the Republic of China on Taiwan — he was the leader of Taiwan when the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with the ROC and established them with the PRC on January 1, 1979.

Chang Ta-chun’s [alternate romanization Zhang Dachun characters 张大春 ] 1996 [historical/pseudo historical/ahistorical??] novel about the relationship between Lee Tenghui (thinly disguised as Li Zhengnan [literally Lee Political Man to translate the characters of the personal name of the main character of the novel] and CCK — The False Disciple [62385743_5c362dedbd Sahuangde Xintu]. I read the book about ten years ago when it came out in Taiwan.

CCK is portrayed as following Lee Tenghui’s career from the late 1940s from when he was (according to the novel) involved in a communist party cell that was broken up, through his education and return to Taiwan and his late entry into the KMT in August 1941 and subsequent rise to high office. CCK is portrayed as identifying Lee early on as someone who could be very useful later in managing a transition to rule by Taiwanese.

Maybe one former communist sympathizing with another former communist?

I wonder if it might be excessive as a hatchet job on Lee, picking up on the same stories circulated during Lee’s last presidential campaign that he had been in a communist reading group and had subsequently betrayed his comrades.

The portrayal of CCK as a visionary who foresaw Taiwan’s political transformation was what I found most interesting about the book.  Though perhaps it gives him too much credit.

I found the book fascinating. Lee Tenghui doesn’t come off very well in the novel — as a scheming poltician thoroughly corrupted by power and not unwilling to sell out colleagues when it suits him, but CCK comes over as a quite prescient leader, very different from CKS (referred to in the book as “the ruler”). The book is told mostly from the perspective of a Taiwan intelligence agent who follows Lee Tenghui’s case over the years. Given Taiwan’s political polarization into Greens and Blues, it is easy to dismiss the novel, but it does run through a lot of Taiwan history and tie things together. So I have always wondered about it and whether I should give it any credence.

I have heard people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits attributing the saying “Better to kill 999 than to let one guilty one go free” to the KMT in mainland China before 1949.  Some say the Communists had a similar slogan.

Available for online purchase from some bookstore in Taiwan for example http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010021705






About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
This entry was posted in History 历史, Ideology 思想, Politics 政治, Society 社会 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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