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Former Taiwan president predicted Xi would return China to Mao era

Lee worried that Taiwan would become overly reliant on China economically

Former President Lee Teng-hui. 

Former President Lee Teng-hui.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the wake of former President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) passing on Thursday (July 30), the Chinese edition of the BBC posted an interview from 2014 on its homepage in which Lee predicted China's Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) wanted to return the communist country to the Mao era.

In the interview, he explained that when he was in office, he had a policy of "no haste, be patient" on restricting Taiwanese businessmen's investments in China. He required that any investments exceeding NT$5 million (US$170,349) be approved by Taiwanese authorities.

Lee expressed his concerns about the cross-strait ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement), which was signed in 2010 under the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration. Lee worried that Taiwan would become overly reliant on China economically and that this would result in the "big fish eating the little fish."

The former president also weighed in on Xi, who had been in power for two years at that time. He stated that Xi appeared to want to return China to the era of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and control everything.

Lee cited Xi's anti-corruption campaign, in which he ousted a large number of officials, as an example of a bid to attain absolute control. He asserted that dealing with corruption is the role of the judicial system and "not of a leader who speaks loudly."

The late leader predicted that Xi would not bring democracy to China. He also pointed out that China faces major internal problems, such as a bubble created by local government investment and a large income distribution gap.

As for his thoughts on the U.S., Lee said that if Taiwan is threatened by China militarily, it is not clear whether the U.S. would extend a helping hand. However, he said that the U.S. still has an important part to play in resolving the South China Sea dispute.

When asked how history would remember him, Lee said, "I hope everyone will say that when Lee Teng-hui was in power, everyone lived a very good life."