Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: First lady a beacon for the country

The supercharismatic first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) yesterday set out on a cultural exchange trip to Germany and Italy, carrying the Taiwanese people's weighty expectations of a diplomatic breakthrough. Wu is also scheduled to meet with Pope John Paul II. She hopes to use the trip to expand Taiwan's diplomatic contact with European countries, elevate bilateral relations and foil Beijing's attempts to isolate Taiwan internationally. But Wu can also use this opportunity to let Europeans see for themselves how different democratic Taiwan is from communist China.

Not every Taiwanese has Wu's sense of humor; the people born in democratic Taiwan share her sincerity, simplicity and candor. This is the real character of Taiwanese women. This is vastly different from the pursuit of luxury and glamor among the wives of high officials during the KMT era. It is also very different from high-level Communist Party cadres like Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi (吳儀), who rule through the barrel of the gun.

What's most precious is Wu's determination to make an effort for the country's future and safeguard the dignity of Taiwanese people, while enduring the ailments besetting her -- all this in the face of Beijing's trampling. For this she has become the best role model for handicapped people in Taiwan. The people of Taiwan do not look down upon her because of her physical handicap. Instead, they respect her even more for her sincerity and congeniality.

The country needs people who dare to speak the truth at international events, dare to say that democratic Taiwan is different from Communist China.

China's Qing-dynasty government ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895, making Taiwan a Japanese colony for half a century. Taiwan's separation from the mainland predates the split between the two Germanys or the two Koreas by more than half a century. More than a century of separation has caused Taiwan's local culture to develop in a completely different direction than that of China.

Meanwhile, China has gone through half a century of communist rule, further increasing the differences between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. China's communist society is completely different from Taiwan's, which is based on a free economy. Laws are enacted and implemented in very different ways in these two societies. In terms of political development, Taiwan has popular democratic elections for the president, legislature and local councils. The other side of the Strait is still going around in circles. The one-party rule established in 1949 is unchanged, and there is absolutely no democratic procedure. The difference is akin to the gulf between Singapore and China.

Beijing is working hard to force a name change on Taiwan, as they did at the World Health Organization by listing Taiwan as a province of China. But the people of Taiwan have always believed that they are not the citizens of the People's Republic of China. China is merely one of the many places around the world that Taiwanese business people go to invest. The Beijing government has nothing to do with us.

The Chinese government is becoming more and more fanatical in its suppression of Taiwan. We can expect various types of harassment against Wu during her trip, but we believe she is very much accustomed to handling Beijing's petty diplomatic maneuvers. Most importantly, we hope Wu will be able to bring the voice of the Taiwanese people to the world and make it heard at international events in Europe. We hope she will bravely point out that Taiwan has never had anything to do with communist China and that the Beijing regime has no right to claim sovereignty over the country.

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