In 1989 the EU passed a resolution imposing a ban on arms sales to China to protest the forceful suppression of the Tiananmen democracy movement in the face of international public opinion, thereby imposing sanctions on China for its savage violence.
EU countries had recently discussed whether to abolish this ban, but on Dec. 18, the European Parliament decided against such action with a landslide vote -- 373 votes against, 32 in favor and 29 abstentions. On Dec. 19, immediately following the EU resolution, the Dutch parliament also passed a resolution requiring the Dutch government to express its opposition to abolishing the ban.
The European and Dutch parliamentary resolutions in fact highlight the importance the EU places on the Taiwan Strait security issue. Taiwan is not alone in advocating the preservation of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. It is also advocated by advanced democratic countries, and coincides with the interests of EU countries.
To be able to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait and dissolve the armed threat posed by China's missiles, Taiwan has to work through both military and non-military channels. Militarily speaking, Taiwan has to establish a complete defense system and a healthy public psychological defense to restrict Chinese attempts to invade the country.
From a non-military perspective, Taiwan should concentrate on a preventive referendum in its endeavor to win international understanding and support to ensure its national security.
In other words, Taiwan needs to make the international community understand that the preventive referendum to be held on March 20 next year is a peace referendum aiming at highlighting the seriousness of the Chinese dictatorship's armed threats against democratic Taiwan. The people of Taiwan will use their collective democratic will to demand that China remove its missiles aimed at Taiwan and give up its threats.
The Taiwanese people's quest for peace naturally coincides with the EU countries' interests in the Asian region. Continuing to allow China to freely raise the level of its threats will lead to a military imbalance in the region, and it will also have a negative impact on prospects for peace and stability.
A preventive referendum will demonstrate Taiwan's efforts to realize direct democracy and preserve peace. This coincides with the international community's mainstream values. The reason the relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has become more tense is not the result of Taiwan's initiating a preventive referendum. The real reason is China's constant threats against Taiwan.
The international community should support peaceful and democratic Taiwan and oppose a communist China endangering regional and international peace. Once China dismantles the missiles aimed at Taiwan and clearly declares that it gives up the option of launching an armed attack on Taiwan, there will no longer be a need to hold a preventive referendum.
Chen Lung-chu is the chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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