Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 8 News List

No one can deny nation's intentions

By Stephane Corcuff 高格孚

Before going back to France tonight, I would like to share a few simple ideas with my Taiwanese friends. On this trip to Taiwan, during the past five days, I attended the Kaohsiung symposium "Light Wind, Warm Sun -- The Love for Taiwan," participated in a political rally in Tainan and discussed and exchanged some ideas with other people on TV, with common people, with citizens attending political manifestations, taxi drivers and many different other friends. I attended, in Miaoli, the historic "Hand-in-Hand Rally" on Feb. 28. All this made me very excited about Taiwanese democracy, which grows richer every year. On Feb. 29, I also had the honor of attending the first two debates organized by the Chinese Television Station on the referendum issue.

I am not Chinese, I am not Hakka, I am not Hoklo, I am not an Aboriginal, I am not a "New Inhabitant" -- I am simply French. And in spite of the fact that I have been to Taiwan every three weeks in recent months to discuss with you many issues on TV programs and other forums, just because I live abroad, I often interact with foreign officials, diplomats, academics and media outside Taiwan. So I'd like to compare the way the debate is going on in Taiwan and the way foreign people see the referendum issue abroad.

Many people in Taiwan think that America is against the referendum and that France is also against the referendum. But what is "America?" And what is "France?" America and France are not summarized by their presidents. There are also national and local media, and of course, the people. Presidents do not necessary understand everything, and in post-modern and democratic societies, the situation is far more complex than what you presume when you think:"France condemned us" or "America is ambiguous in its support."

Because I am what you call a "foreigner," I will comment on the referendum issue first from a foreigner's points of view. I am very lucky to be able to teach in Paris a course on the theories of identity and the geopolitics of the Taiwan Strait, so let's discuss from a geopolitical point of view the current missile crisis in the Taiwan Strait. I dare to use this expression, and regret that media abroad and diplomats far from the Taiwanese reality often turn a blind eye to this and would not even consider that what is happening now is a mounting crisis.

If Russia was targeting missiles at one Baltic state, everyone would view it this way. But this does not happen in the case of Taiwan. On the contrary: Taiwanese are described as "troublemakers." This situation is, however, simple: there is a menacing country and there is a country being menaced. Even my pan-blue friends recognize they cannot go against such a starting point in the analysis. And after French President Jacques Chirac condemned Taiwan's referendum, many if not all of the national media in France criticized him strongly for bowing to Chinese pressure to the point of making a blatant mistake in geopolitical appreciation. Some stated clearly that Taiwan was an endangered state and that it was truly shocking that we wanted to end the ban on weapons sales to the country that is menacing a democratic Taiwan.

So if the people of a country being menaced militarily rises up to say clearly they oppose the Chinese missile threat, what on earth can be said against that? How is it possible that political realism becomes so unrealistic and leaves no space for morality? Ask this question to common people abroad and you'll see whether they think Taiwan's attitude is difficult to understand.

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