Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: It's Taiwan's right to change

These days, Taiwan seems unable to escape criticism. Whatever President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) does, the US accuses him of "attempting to unilaterally change the status quo." The referendum on arms purchases held with the March 20 presidential election was considered a violation of the status quo, and the move to rename Taiwan's overseas government agencies is also being criticized as a violation of the status quo. One cannot help but wonder if the trade pact signed by China and ASEAN states is also a violation of the status quo, since Taiwan's economic advantages are being marginalized. Both German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac have recently been working to lift the EU's arms embargo against China. Isn't this also a violation of the status quo? What is the US' view of China's actions?

The terminology of contemporary politics is being defined by China alone. In applying these rules, China seems to have brought the rest of the world under its wing, with the US following China's lead in the use of this terminology, seemingly unaware of danger. China is trying to bury Taiwan alive with the term "status quo," and unfortunately, the US might be serving as Beijing's unwitting accomplice.

So what is the status quo? Is it the divine right of kings or of democratic politics? Is it authoritarianism or freedom? Taiwan was a member state of the UN over 30 years ago and enjoyed diplomatic ties with the US and most other countries. Although most have severed their ties with Taiwan since then, the economy has grown and politically the nation has moved away from the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). After the US turned its back on Taiwan in 1979, what point in time can be used to define the status quo? If the status quo is understood by the US as a situation in which China deploys an estimated 600 ballistic missiles against Taiwan and upholding its "one China" principle while gradually trying to take over the island, then what is the point of such a status quo? Why does Washington want to maintain Beijing's military threat and even rationalize it as the status quo?

There is nothing wrong with correcting Taiwan's name, and it in no way threatens anyone or infringes upon others' rights. Many African countries cast off the yoke of colonial rule, rejected the colonial rulers' name and took new names. Rhodesia was a name that referred to a territory of white minority rule, which has now become the country of Zimbabwe, ruled by a black majority. The change of name was simply a statement of local identity.

Taiwan has shifted from the minority rule of Mainlanders during the KMT era to rule by all of the people. It's the public's right to change the country's name from one associated with a Chinese colonial regime.

The Taiwan Relations Act specifies the terms of US military assistance to Taiwan, but it does not prevent China from pursuing a policy of marginalizing Taiwan out of existence in the international community. If they carry on in this fashion, even the struggle for continued existence itself is likely to be criticized by the US as a unilateral change to the status quo.

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