Sat, Nov 27, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Taiwan already on the world stage

On the McDonald's Corporation's Web site, both Taiwan and Hong Kong are identified as a country, while China is missing. Many other corporations -- including Audi, Mercedes-Benz, GM and Siemens -- list Taiwan as a country. This is just a simple situation that tallies with business operations. But Chinese media believe that Taiwan cannot be taken as a "country," since this word refers to an independent nation with its own sovereignty.

With Chinese nationalism, it's hard to know whether to laugh or despair. For example, consumers worldwide are familiar with products labeled "Made in Taiwan" (MIT). MIT products represent good quality and cheap prices, especially IT products. However, if labeled "Made in China," the quality they represent may be much lower.

It's a given that Taiwan, Hong Kong and China are all official members of the WTO. In the situation in today's global market, China's actions against Taiwan's sovereignty go against most people's understanding, because they are unnecessary and appalling.

Not only has China's rigid and inflexible policy oppressed Taiwan, but it has also squeezed Hong Kong. After its handover in 1997, the territory's political independence it used to enjoy under the British disappeared, and its control over its own economic and trade affairs shrank. This has destroyed the Hong Kong people's confidence in Beijing's policy of "one country, two systems."

No wonder, despite numerous disagreements, the ruling and opposition camps in Taiwan are united in their rejection of "one country, two systems." As far as politics is concerned, the world cannot differentiate between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People's Republic of China (PRC). When it comes to China and Taiwan, it is acknowledged that these are countries ruled by two different governments. On Wednesday, 47 Democratic Party members of the Japanese Diet convened a conference to voice support for Taiwan's democratization and liberalization. They agreed to facilitate a visit to Japan by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and declared respect and support for Taiwan's domestic opinions about its constitutional reform, national title rectification and other issues. This example shows that although Taiwan faces many obstacles on the international stage, such as being unable to join international organizations due to pressure from China, it still has many supporters and sympathizers in Japan, the US and Europe.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced Thursday that he would make his bid for UN membership under the title of "Taiwan" from next year. We applaud this announcement. Taiwan's government used to be constrained by convention and insisted on applying for UN membership under the title of "Republic of China." But the ROC's seat in the UN was taken by China in 1971 under UN Resolution 2758, so to seek membership as the ROC, after 12 previous failures, would seem to be a deadend. Taiwan should try new strategies. Applying as Taiwan not only follows the model of its APEC and WTO membership, it also clearly distinguishes between Taiwan and the PRC. This application for membership is not related to UN Resolution 2758, and even if its bid fails, at least Taiwan will have succeeded in increasing its visibility on the international stage.

If the two sides of the Taiwan Strait wish to maintain peace and stability, they should delineate the boundaries of the battlefield but not engage in total war. Clearly separating politics and economics and allowing mutual exchanges in the private sector to remain untrammeled by the issue of sovereignty is probably the most surefire model. If everything gets tied up in a Web of nationalism, then neither side of the strait will be able to act.

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