Mon, Mar 11, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Mongolia decision was premature

By Kao Koong-lian 高孔廉

The Cabinet has amended the Enforcement Rules of the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例施行細則). The amendment means that Mongolia is no longer seen as part of the mainland area, that visas for visiting Mongolians shall be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and that, if the need arises, a representative office shall be established in Mongolia.

I have been involved in cross-strait, Mongolian and Tibetan affairs for many years and I am of the opinion that this "de-sinicization" move creates a constitutional dispute regarding the scope of our nation's territory. It is unnecessary and brings no real benefits to our country.

Article 4 of the ROC Constitution states: "The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries ..." Since the beginning of the last century, Mongolia has been both included and excluded from Chinese territory and therefore, some disputes exist as to whether it is included within "existing national boundaries."

However, if we take a closer look at Article 26, Section 2 of the Constitution, dealing with the election of representatives to the National Assembly, and Article 64, Section 2 dealing with the election of legislators, both clearly state the number of representatives to be elected from each Mongolian league and banner (Mongolian administrative units, equivalent to counties and cities). Adding to this that Mongolia sent representatives to participate in the creation of the Constitution, there is no doubt that Mongolia is part of ROC territory.

The only problem is that our jurisdiction does not extend to Mongolia now. Since this is the case, the MOFA statement that visas shall be issued in the same way as to other foreigners and that the ministry plans to open up a representative office in Mongolia, are actually unconstitutional.

Next, let's talk about necessity. The Cabinet reportedly amended the law in order to facilitate Mongolian visits to Taiwan. In reality, however, only about 100-200 Mongolians come to Taiwan each year. Whether they are individual visitors or part of groups, they can all easily visit Taiwan.

While assisting Taiwanese businesspeople to invest in Mongolia -- creating an annual average of about US$3 million in mutual trade -- the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission has also, for the last few years, arranged business management training programs in Taiwan for Mongolian government and industry officials. These people maintain contact with Taiwan, which proves that bilateral exchanges are very easy. Since Mongolian authorities are concerned over Chinese pressure, top-level government officials have never visited Taiwan. Even if we now unilaterally change our ways, high-level Mongolian officials will still not visit. Therefore, there really is no need to amend the law.

In fact, due to China's watchfulness, there is almost no chance of establishing diplomatic relations with Mongolia and there is therefore no immediate urgency to amend the law. What's more, it will be difficult to avoid disputes over the definition of the scope of territorial boundaries arising out of this amendment, as it involves interpretation of the Constitution and the controversy regarding unification or independence. This is a fundamental, major political issue and even the Council of Grand Justices in their Constitutional Interpretation No. 328 points out: "The definition of `existing national boundaries' is a major political issue, and should not be interpreted by the interpretation mechanisms of administrative judicial courts."

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