Hau Pei-tsun, a former Taiwanese premier who fought against the Japanese in World War II, has died in Taipei of multiple organ failure. He was 100.
A staunch supporter of cross-strait unification, Hau was an opponent of Taiwanese independence.
He had been treated at Taipei’s Tri-Service General Hospital and had had a minor stroke in April last year.
Hau Lung-bin, the eldest of Hau’s five children and himself a former Taipei mayor and Kuomintang (KMT) vice-chairman, paid tribute to his father.
“Living through life and death my father, who had devoted himself to the country had clearly defined himself as a senior soldier and dutiful civil servant, who led a colourful life during his time,” Hau Lung-bin said.
“He told us he had no regrets when he said his last goodbye to us.”
Born in the mainland Chinese province of Jiangsu in July 1919, the senior Hau followed late KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan after the KMT defeat by the Chinese Communists at the end of a civil war in 1949.
Hau had long held military posts and was known as a military strongman. He served as the chief of the general staff in the military between 1981 and 1989, the longest tenure held by any military general in Taiwan.
When Lee Teng-hui, the then vice-president, succeeded Chiang Ching-kuo, son of Chiang Kai-shek, as president in 1988, Lee appointed Hau as defence minister in 1989.
In 1990, despite resistance by the then opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Hau was made premier by the then KMT-dominated legislature.
When he was premier between 1990 and 1993, he was once challenged by DPP legislators at a legislature over his political stand. In response, Hau said: “In no circumstance would I accept Taiwan independence and this is my conscience.”
But throughout his life, Hau remained opposed to the Chinese Communists. In August 2015, long after he stepped down as premier, he said that any retired generals from the self-ruled island who attended a parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of China’s eight-year war against Japanese aggression during World War II should be stripped of their pensions.
“If retired generals in the KMT military want to attend Beijing’s war parade, that means they are going to endorse Beijing’s propaganda that the Communist Party was the mainstay in the war,” Hau said.
Hau had insisted it was Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT forces that led China’s resistance against Japan until 1945.
Hau had strongly supported cross-strait unification under the Three Principles of the People advocated by Sun Yat-sen – the founder of modern China – which determined that people could enjoy democracy, freedom and general wealth.
“My father was a soldier, who had always prepared for war but was afraid it would happen. He always hoped to maintain peace and security in Taiwan, and this was his lifelong will,” said Hau Lung-bin.
Hau was survived by two sons and three daughters. His wife died in 2018 at the age of 97.
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This article Former Taiwan premier Hau Pei-tsun dies aged 100 after life as soldier and statesman first appeared on South China Morning Post