Sat, Jan 08, 2005 - Page 8 News List

A letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao

By Henry Wang

The government of China is not helping itself and its people when it regularly carries on with various forms of intimidation and threats against Taiwan. All such measures have proven counterproductive in the past.

For one thing, over the last decade or so Taiwanese hostility toward China has intensified. This is reflected in the rapidly increasing number of people who have identified themselves as Taiwanese rather than ethnic Chinese.

It would be a misinterpretation if Beijing sees the ruling party's falling short of its goal in the recent legislative elections as an indication of the Taiwanese people's inclination to accept the so-called "one China" principle.

As a matter of fact, surveys over the years have demonstrated that the great majority of the Taiwanese, including a good percentage of voters who cast votes for the opposition parties, are opposed to China's "one country, two systems" model that has been implemented in Hong Kong and Macao. In a nutshell, the Taiwanese do not want Taiwan to be a part of China.

Like all its previous acts and words of intimidation, the Chinese legislature's reported plan to enact an "anti-secession" law mandating military action to attack Taiwan if it should declare independence, will not scare the Taiwanese.

Taiwan is a sovereign nation and has never been, historically or legally, part of China since 1895. The Taiwanese view any part of the anti-Taiwan law as an attempt at justifying China's design to invade and annex Taiwan. The plan to enact such a law thus constitutes a Chinese threat to Taiwan.

Further, its enactment is most likely to endanger peace and stability in the region. China must therefore respect the will of the Taiwanese and their right to self-determination as prescribed in the Charter of the UN.

Over the last decade and half, the Taiwanese have democratized their state and society. They have elected their representatives at all levels of government, national as well as local. They enjoy constitutionally protected freedoms and rights.

The political progress made in Taiwan has been so remarkable that the US-based Freedom House has consistently ranked Taiwan as one of Asia's three freest countries from 1997 to 2003.

On the other hand, the Freedom House classified China as "Not Free" as a result of being assessed with a combined average score of 6.5 on a scale of 1-7 (with 1 being the best and 7 the worst) in terms of political rights and civil liberties.

It is no surprise that of over 190 countries evaluated in 2003, China was only slightly better than the nine countries that received the worst combined average of 7. Indeed, China is the only permanent member of the UN Security Council with such an awful rating. Even Russia received a better combined average of 5 and thus considered as a "Partly Free" country.

Learning from the experience of its economically advanced Asian neighbors, particularly Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, China has made tremendous progress in the area of economic development over the last two decades.

It is time that China also learns to promote and respect human rights from the three freest Asian countries -- Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, China more than any other country is obligated to live up to the standards set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights agreements of the UN.

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