Over the past few weeks, the US, Japan and the EU have all expressed concern about the plan to hold a peace referendum at the same time as the presidential election on March 20. The US government in particular has said many times that it hopes Taiwan does not hold a referendum that changes the status quo.
Is the March 20 referendum -- asking China to remove its 500 missiles aimed at Taiwan and renounce the use of force -- an attempt to change the status quo?
So far, the international community apparently has chosen to believe Beijing's side of the story. China is a large, hugely influential country. When it calls a deer a horse, many governments swallow the story hook, line and sinker.
During a session at the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs Committee, I once made an analogy involving a good man who is forced to wear a bulletproof vest because he is being threatened by a vicious bully with a gun. As a result, the man who puts on the jacket is accused of changing the status quo and provoking the vicious bully.
Quite a few people echo the vicious bully's version of the situation. The Beijing regime has turned truth and falsehood upside down and confused black with white. The international community has no reason to accept Beijing's distorted interpretation. Taiwan does not want to recapture China, nor does it have 500 missiles aimed at China. Therefore, Taiwan cannot possibly threaten China.
The international community is also concerned about what President Chen Shui-bian (
China is worried that the March 20 referendum will be a large step toward Taiwanese independence. They are therefore releasing poison into the international community, sending officials to the US, the EU, Japan and even our neighbors -- the Philippines, Singapore and Australia -- to ask them to step forward and oppose Taiwan's holding of referendums.
When I was visiting the Philippines a few days ago, I heard that China had sent a high-level delegation from the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office to threaten the Philippines, saying that it would start a war against Taiwan over the March 20 referendum, that many Taiwanese refugees would flee to the Philippines and that the Philippines would be harmed. The delegation thus suggested that the Philippines oppose Taiwan's March 20 referendum publicly.
We have been a little slow in our external propaganda work regarding the peace referendum. The international community has therefore been misled by Beijing's misinformation. First impressions being the strongest, this has made our work even more difficult than it would otherwise be. We hope the international community can understand that the March 20 referendum is not to change the status quo, but to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
In 1962, when the Soviet Union deployed a few missiles in Cuba, the US did not hesitate to risk war to demand that the Soviet Union remove the missiles even before they became operational. China has deployed more than 500 missiles aimed at Taiwan. Besides, Beijing threatens to use force against Taiwan regularly.