The government's plan to hold a referendum on the day of the presidential election has led to the US, China, Japan and even France, which has nothing to do with the matter, stating their opinions. Some have shown their concern and some their opposition, as if the referendum was their private business.
\nThe responses of the government and the public to these foreigners showing their concern has varied from ignoring it to attaching a lot of importance to it.
\nFor example, we have seen people taking to the streets to protest against Japan and France for interfering in Taiwan's domestic affairs, but not against China. And we have seen the president rebutting statements made by China and France, but we have not seen him oppose the US. This reaction merits further investigation.
\nInternational debate over Taiwan used to be much livelier than it is today. As early as the 1950s, the issue of Taiwan's representation at the UN was constantly being debated at international meetings.
\nCountries supporting China kept suggesting that Taiwan should be stripped of its representative rights, and in 1971 Taiwan was finally locked out of the UN. Following that, demands for terminating the Republic of China's membership were heard in all kinds of international organizations, together with demands to change the name under which Taiwan could remain a member. If there were no name change, the meetings of these organizations were boycotted by China.
\nBecause Beijing tries to exclude Taiwan from the international community and attempts to include it in its own territory, it repeatedly forces the issue of treating Taiwan as part of its
\nterritory when setting up diplomatic relations with other countries and at other international meetings. The rapid internationalization of the Taiwan issue is all the work of China. In this process, each concerned country publicly makes gestures towards Taiwan to meet Chinese demands.
\nThe serious interference in Taiwan's domestic affairs is all but obvious. This ongoing international debate has actually turned the Taiwan issue into a matter of routine. Everyone now remains aloof, ignoring it.
\nIn addition, Taiwan has long seen the US as an ally, relying on it for security and protection. When the US discusses Taiwan, therefore, it is seen as something natural, and there is no reason for opposition.
\nFurthermore, some politicians tend to meet US demands and invite Washington to interfere in Taiwan's domestic affairs. This is an attitude Taiwan should certainly avoid as it faces the international community.
\nThe US is a superpower, and it is a fact that it recognizes Taiwan's need for protection and security. This is a friendship we should respect.
\nIt is not, however, appropriate for the US to publicly oppose Taiwanese domestic measures. Looking back at the post-war period, US actions in the East Asia region make us understand clearly that the position the US should maintain in the region will suffer severely from repeated US pressure on domestic measures taken by its allies -- eg, South Korea and South Vietnam -- in order to meet China's demands.
\nIt is understandable that the US does not want to sacrifice American lives over the cross-strait issue, but this point of view doesn't have to be built on interference in Taiwan's domestic affairs.
\nThe US has been consistent in its point of view that the cross-strait issue should be resolved by the two sides themselves. The George W. Bush administration's opposition to the referendum is a departure from longstanding US thinking.
\nJapan's show of concern over Taiwan's referendum is completely unnecessary. When did Japan ever concern itself over the Taiwan issue? For a long period after Taiwan and Japan broke off diplomatic relations, the Japan-ese media did not report news about Taiwan, and government officials and university professors refused to visit. Not until 15 years ago did they begin to change this policy.
\nJapan has for a long time lived under the shadow of the security threat posed by China. Judging from Japan's opinion concerning the referendum, nothing at all remains of its proposition to become a "normalized country." Japan is still incapable of removing itself from China's coercion, and must continue to be a Chinese pawn. Japan still has a long way to go before it can realize its dream of becoming a regional leader.
\nFrance's reaction is the most unexpected. French President Jacques Chirac publicly opposed Taiwan's referendum during a visit by China's President Hu Jintao (
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