As Article 4 of the Constitution states, "The territory of the Republic of China [ROC] within its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by a resolution of the National Assembly."
But what is the ROC anyway? Where is it? If it still exists today, where are its national boundaries?
In fact, a mere 26 weak and tiny countries acknowledge the so-called ROC. As for leading powers -- such as the US, the European Union (EU), Japan and China -- none recognize the ROC's existence. The state that they are dealing with is called "Taiwan," whose current territory includes Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.
The ROC is simply the ancestral tablet before which Taiwan's pro-unificationists pray: it was eradicated from Chinese history a long time ago. However, the pro-unification camp has refused to accept this fact, and continues to tightly embrace the ROC corpse. In the name of national unity and completeness, the rest of the Taiwanese people have been forced to pray before the same ancestral tablet.
According to the geography textbooks we study in school, the territory of the ROC includes Mongolia and the People's Republic of China (PRC). ROC territory thus consists of three countries: Taiwan, China and Mongolia. What kind of super-imperialistic Constitution is this, including the lands of other countries in its own territory? Since no one takes the Constitution seriously, perhaps we can act even more ridiculously, and call an extraordinary session of the National Assembly to annex the territories of the US and Japan.
This Constitution was passed on Dec. 25, 1946, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) still ruled China. It was promulgated on Jan. 1, 1947, and came into force on Dec. 25 the same year. Comparing the situation at the time with Taiwan's current situation, we see that our country is still wearing a suit tailored for China 60 years ago, and is unable to shake it off.
Any democratic country abiding by the rule of law has a basic national law. Even totalitarian China has a constitution it uses to show off its civilized behavior. Taiwan, however, still uses the Constitution of a non-existent country -- the ROC -- and because it is inappropriate, it is repeatedly amended.
It has now been amended nine times in all, but problems still abound. What's worse, each amendment leads to a major political crisis, amost splitting the country in two. This is too high a price to pay.
A sound democracy must have an appropriate constitution. The meaning of that constitution can then change with the times. The text of the US Constitution, for example, is simple, and, as times change, interpretations by the Supreme Court serve to further consolidate its spirit. This means that the US can solve constitutional disputes simply by calling for a constitutional interpretation instead of through a major amendment process at high political cost.
In a videoconference last week, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) gave a speech to US officials and academics, once again stressing Taiwan's need for a new constitution. Lee could well be called the best spokesperson for a new constitution, since the amendments made during his presidency led to political attacks from his political foes, incessant political disputes, and political instability. A constitutional amendment is thus no longer the ideal solution to the constitutional crisis.