Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 8 News List


A list of wrongs

I don't know who Richard Hartzell is, what his qualifications are, or why he thinks he can explain Taiwanese national identity according to US standards, but there are certainly some glaring errors in his argument (Letters, Nov. 13, page 8).

Since he appears to enjoy lists so much, and since I must be as qualified as he, perhaps I can indulge in a list of my own: First, by US standards, sovereignty should be awarded by the people being governed and not an international court or an occupying force.

Second, to my knowledge the Taiwanese people had no representatives at the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and therefore, it should not be binding to Taiwan.

Third, Taiwan cannot be referred to as "island people of the Taiwan cession" because they were never citizens of China, and thus, they could not secede. That would be like Tibet seceding from China. The term should only be applied when the citizens seceding were originally citizens by choice.

Fourth, if the US is truly a friend of democracy, it should be recognizing the "sole legitimate government" of Taiwan, and its president, elected, for the first time in history, by the people of Taiwan.

Fifth, US Secretary of State Colin Powell is not correct, and this American, for one, is very disappointed in his careless words.

Boni Webster

Tacoma, Washington

Taiwan is a nation

Along with many others, I was also disappointed and a bit confused with US Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks about Taiwan not enjoying sovereignty, which he made in Beijing on his recent Asian tour.

For decades, Taiwan has been relegated to doing the best it can with the precarious "one China" policy the US government has officially espoused since full diplomatic ties were switched from Taipei to Beijing during the Carter administration.

However, to say that the US supports the "one China" policy and saying that Taiwan does not enjoy sovereignty are two different things. I have searched many dictionaries and textbooks on diplomacy and international relations for definitions of state sovereignty. Without exception, Taiwan fits every definition. To take one example, Professors Paul Viotti and Mark Kauppi state in their book International Relations Theory that sovereignty is "the supreme, independent and final authority. The attribute of a state that refers to its right to exercise complete jurisdiction over its own territory."

According to this definition, Taiwan does indeed enjoy sovereignty. In regard to its domestic and foreign policy, the ROC government is the final authority.

The argument could be made that Taiwan is even more "sovereign" than many debt-ridden developing countries that are officially recognized as independent states by the international community but are at the mercy of the IMF, World Bank or other institutions which represent the real power in the world.

Declaring independence or choosing not to doesn't alter the facts. Would simply telling everyone that I am a man suddenly make other people see me and accept me as such? No wonder Powell's comment has received so much attention.

Wayne Schams


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