Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Face up to the reality of a lack of sovereignty

By Hsu Yung-ming 徐永明

In his recent interviews, US Secretary of State Colin Powell called Taiwan a democratic market society. But he also said that "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation," and added that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will eventually reach a "peaceful unification" under the US "one China" policy.

Powell's words have completely changed the myth about Taiwan's democratic development. We finally understand that enjoying democracy does not equal enjoying sovereignty as a nation, and supporting Taiwan to boost democracy is not supporting the Taiwanese people to become their own masters. Thus, the way Washington treats Taipei is no better than the way Beijing treats Hong Kong.

Senior Presidential Adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) once told some high-level officials of the US Department of State that the Taiwan Relations Act is nothing but a piece of paper which is inferior to the US-Japan security cooperation and the US military deployment in South Korea. At least Japan and South Korea are clearly aware of their rights and obligations. The Taiwan Relations Act was unilaterally passed by the US Congress in 1979, and Washington has the right to interpret it as it sees fit. Hence, the people of Taiwan have been guessing: Under what conditions is the US willing to safeguard Taiwan? Once a cross-strait war breaks out, how long will it take for Washington to send its aircraft carriers to the Strait? Will it be 20 or 40 hours? This also explains why Powell believes that Taiwan does not deserve sovereignty as a nation, because we are too naive, and are still not qualified to play this complex international game.

The Taiwanese people think that they are becoming their own masters when striving for democracy. But from a US perspective, it is just an improvement of human welfare. The Taiwanese people think that they are deepening democracy and resolving a political deadlock through the push for referendums.

But from a US perspective, it is a push for Taiwan independence. Obviously, under this US patriarchy, Washington views Taipei as a democratic offspring that needs its special care. But the former also locks the latter in a birdcage, so that it will not fly away and cause trouble.

Viewed from this perspective, perhaps it is better for Taiwan and China to resume their talks. At least, Taiwan will have a chance to speak for itself without US pressure. It must take the initiative, rather than depending on the US forever. The Democratic Progressive Party government should make the public aware of the gap between Taiwan's democracy and sovereignty, and both the blue and green camps should clarify their stances on the issue. Apart from the Taiwanese people's pro-unification and pro-independence sentiments, the key lies in the fact that there is no longer a gray area. Taiwan cannot now enjoy both democracy and sovereignty -- just democracy without sovereignty.

What exactly is a democracy without sovereignty? What is the value and weight of a democracy that can be traded away by another country at any time? Does it deserve our efforts? This is the question that Taiwan's politicians and people must answer.

Therefore, apart from deepening its democracy, so as to communicate with the rest of the world through it, Taiwan should actively carry out cross-strait talks with China and look into the connection between its democracy and sovereignty. In particular, it should uncover China's hypocritical nature of oppressing Taiwan through the US.

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