Lee Kuan Yew foresees no big changes in Taiwan’s int’l space


Excerpts from a Central New Agency (Taiwan) interview with Lee. No video available.

“I believe Taiwan will not have much more international space in the next four years. Beijing will have to take into account that a successor DPP president may exploit this increased space, ” said Lee in the May 6 interview at his office. …

Lee said he does not think missile withdrawal is a critical issue as missiles can be withdrawn and then be repositioned in a few days or weeks.

“The question to ask is under what circumstances will they (China) fire them. I do not see the Chinese, for no rhyme or reason, destroy Taiwan when they intend to have Taiwan grow, and to benefit from that growth,” Lee said.

But if Taiwan goes for independence, Lee said, “China will attack.” …

According to Lee, sustainable economic growth is very important to China. Such a desire can serve as a basis for future development of cross-strait relations, he noted.

“They (China) have many differences with the Japanese. Yet (Chinese President) Hu Jintao is in Tokyo today. Why? Because China wants to grow, ” Lee said. …

As to the future of cross-strait relations, Lee said he believes that the wishes of Taiwanese people will not be decisive on the issue of unification.

“The decisive factors are the economic and military strength and determination of China and America, ” Lee said. “The U.S. government has made it clear that they will only support the status quo of the ROC (Taiwan) — no independence and no unification by force.”

Lee cited the example of Kosovo. “Kosovo has become separate from Serbia because the Americans bombed Serbia into withdrawing their forces from Kosovo,” he said.

Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by America and some European Union countries, but Russia and China oppose independence. At present, EU troops are in Kosovo to prevent the Serbs from retaking Kosovo. “If the EU troops leave, Serbia will re-absorb Kosovo,” Lee said.

He added that if Taiwan maintains steady relations with China and avoids confrontation, “there is no reason for Taiwan to be squeezed out.”

After Ma takes the presidency on May 20, Lee said he looks forward to seeing issues discussed among Taiwan’s major political parties will no longer be “unification versus independence” or “localization” but rather be promotion of trade, investment and economic opportunities.

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