Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 8 News List

How not to dance to China's tune

By the Liberty Times editorial

After three days of silence, the pro-China Hong Kong newspapers Wenhuibao (文匯報) and Takungpao (大公報) ran articles on Tuesday, criticizing the pan-green camp for pushing for a new constitution by referendum. Before this, the spokesperson of China's Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement on Oct 26, repeating that "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one country, and that Chinese sovereignty and territory are indivisible." Apparently, following Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) return to Beijing from a recent overseas trip, the Chinese government discussed how to move against President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proposal for a new constitution. That the authors of the newspaper articles both had the character wu (武, "force") in their names suggests that their views are being backed up with force. This is consistent with China's typical tactics of propaganda and intimidation.

Generally speaking, before China takes any official position on political advances by Taiwan, it speaks through the Hong Kong media. Exaggerated news reports about military exercises conducted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are often released through Hong Kong media at around the same time. A rally organized by the pan-green camp in support of the right to holding referendums saw more than 200,000 people protest in Kaohsiung on Oct. 25. The rally enhanced popular support and strengthened demands for a new constitution compatible with Taiwan's democracy and its rebirth as a normal, complete and great country. Under the circumstances, therefore, it was entirely predictable that the Hong Kong media and even the Chinese media would launch attacks against this new development.

According to the article in Takungpao, China believes that "under international law, if Taiwan seeks to create a new constitution and therefore a new country, it cannot be decided by only the people of Taiwan through a public referendum, but rather by the entire Chinese people through a referendum." This was because "after October 1, 1949, the government of the People's Republic of China [PRC] government had succeeded the Republic of China [ROC] government in exercising, on behalf of China, sovereignty over all its territory, including Taiwan." Any Taiwanese who reads this article would surely smirk. How can a totalitarian, communist country believe it is entitled to interfere with a model democratic country, or to declare sovereignty over another sovereign and independent, democratic country? It is even more ludicrous for China to shamefully claim that Taiwanese are not qualified to decide the constitutional framework of their own government for themselves through popular democracy, but that these matters must instead be submitted to a referendum of the Chinese people.

Apparently, China has not yet realized that, as it aims hundreds of missiles at Taiwan and refuses to denounce the use of force, its claim of being the "mother country" of Taiwanese and of being sovereign over Taiwan has nourished Taiwanese demands to be their own masters. This has led to a rapid surge in popular support for Taiwanese independence. On the other hand, a number of political parties and their members, who proclaim themselves to be "defenders of the ROC," call for the safeguarding of the ROC on the one hand and advocate the extension of Chinese sovereignty to Taiwan by unification with China on the other. This is as ridiculous and as pathetic as the small band of people who shrieked "long live Hu Jintao" as they attended the ROC's Double-Ten Day ceremony.

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