When Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of Tchang Kaï-shek, died on January 13, 1988, the fate of the island that the mainland Communists had failed for four decades to bring back into the Chinese fold passed automatically, without popular consultation. of any kind, in the hands of a little-known man: Vice President Lee Teng-hui. He is the second figure in a state that still claims to extend its sovereignty to the whole of Chinese territory. Lee Teng-hui, who died Thursday, July 30, at the age of 97, in a hospital in Taipei, was previously mayor of the city, the “provisional” capital of the Republic of China, then governor of the “province” insular, but he does not belong to the group of political tenors who still dominate the party then in power, the Kuomintang.
Above all, he is a native Taiwanese. He is the first representative of the socio-ethnic majority of the island to reach the supreme office of a regime whose highest representatives are practically all recruited from the minority of the heirs of the defeat of 1949 against Mao who s’ were refugees there under the wavering banner of “Generalissimo” Tchiang.
In this sense, the choice of Lee Teng-hui will be a poisoned gift for the holders of continental power: it was already sowing the seeds of the crisis which, a few years later, would resurface between the two shores of the Strait of Formosa in favor of the transformation in which the Chinese world is engaged. Especially since Lee Teng-hui is the syncretic product of a local history made up of ingredients totally different from the paths in which the men who run the continent identify.
A humble social origin
He shares with some of them a humble social origin, which did not predispose him particularly to the functions of leader of what was to become, at the time when he was brought to exercise power, the richest state in the world in foreign currencies, with Japan. Lee Teng-hui was born on January 15, 1923 to a family of notable villagers, near Taipei, the capital of what was then a simple Japanese colony, ceded by the Manchu dynasty to the Empire. of the rising sun in 1895. Admittedly, Taipei was then one of the most modern cities in Asia: we even see public lighting there with electricity, and Japan established there the fabric of an industrial fabric which explains in part of the island’s subsequent success. But Taiwan is one piece of the Far Eastern chessboard, not the biggest.
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