China off base
Bruce Springsteen's famous song Born in the USA resounds for Americans. It would be anathema, of course, if suddenly the UK issued a diplomatic fiat to all countries with which it maintains diplomatic relations cautioning them that all persons entering who list their place of birth as anywhere within the so-called "United States" must list their birthplace as the UK instead -- despite 227 years of history to the contrary.
The example is, of course, rather extreme, not to mention highly unlikely and unenforceable. But what if the parties are unequal, or the circumstances a little murky, or the blackmail so high as to cause most salivating countries to blink? Such is the case with Taiwan and China.
China, the world's gorilla, has been throwing its weight around a lot lately, most often by using blackmail, most often directed against Taiwan. The latest gambit has been to instruct all countries that people born in Taiwan must list their birthplace as "China" when applying for Chinese visas. It is a ridiculous proposition of course (though the KMT maintained for decades just that very position, which is where things become "murky" for Taiwan).
Just as Taiwanese do not consider they were born in Japan, despite its colonialization of the island, Taiwanese would not consider they were born in China either. Until the communists leave, and the name "China" becomes the country it once was, and may one day again become, the name "China" right now implies a ruthless communist dictatorship which oppresses its people and suppresses truth and freedom.
That communist government has never set foot in Taiwan and has never ruled Taiwan since 1949. Its claims to sovereignty over Taiwan are bogus.
If China can accomplish marginalization of Taiwan, it is not because of its strength or Taiwan's frailty, but because of the overwhelming weakness of conviction in the UN as a whole, and its member nations, and the overwhelming greed for markets and money that captivates the world.
Most countries know China lies and cheats whenever it can, and those nations treat Taiwan with a nod and wink. All are waiting for the bully to trip and fall. Perhaps a crack in the system will start with Hong Kong, the communists' failed attempt to pretend to tolerate freedom. For me, the exit of communist oppression and dictatorship from China could never come too soon. For now, let "born in Taiwan" be a proclamation of pride and satisfaction.
Lee Long Hwa
Director, American Institute of Taiwan-China Strategy