Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Democracy an alien concept for Wen

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) visited the UN after arriving in New York on Sunday. During a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Wen said, "China will not allow Taiwan to engage in splittism in the name of democracy."

Wen's remarks were laughed at in Taiwan's media circles. Beijing has never implemented democratic politics but instead has repeatedly trampled on human rights. Now one of its leaders is at the UN, which passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1948, and is vociferously attacking the democratic reforms being carried out by the people of Taiwan in accordance with the basic spirit of that declaration. Such a scene flies in the face of the UN's raison d'etre and is a blow to its dignity. The UN should not become a venue from which authoritarian countries can threaten democratic ones. It also should not become a place where bullies can interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Wen, you have given the UN a bad name.

We must ask: how could Taiwan's holding of a referendum in accordance with modern democratic procedures become splittism? When was Taiwan part of the People's Republic of China? Besides, hasn't the Chinese government always emphasized that a majority of the Taiwanese people long for unification with the motherland? In that case, wouldn't that majority vote for unification if a referendum on the unification-independence issue were actually held? Beijing would then be able to take over Taiwan without wasting a single soldier and fulfill its stated wish of "peaceful unification."

In this respect, Beijing should be bending over backward to encourage the people and government of Taiwan to hold various referendums, including one on the unification-independence issue, so that the people of Taiwan can choose their political future in a most peaceful and democratic way. What reason does Beijing have to attempt to stop the holding of referendums in Taiwan? What is Beijing scared of?

Responding to misgivings about the referendum issue on Sunday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said the "defensive referendum" he plans to hold next March will demand that China withdraw all its ballistic missiles deployed along the coast facing Taiwan and that China renounce the use of force.

Consider the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the more recent India-Pakistan missile crisis. In both cases, the missile deployments provoked an immediate and belligerent response. Now, China has deployed 496 missiles across the Taiwan Strait. Facing such a serious military threat, can't Taiwan promote a referendum to express its opposition to the missile threat and the threat of war? We must call on the US government, which has always prided itself on human rights and democracy, not to dance to Beijing's evil tune. Nor should it make comments that Taiwan is provoking Beijing by holding referendums.

If Wen really understands American democracy, and if he still has some conscience, he will understand why the people of Taiwan are unwilling to accept another alien regime that wants to enslave them.

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