Mon, May 30, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Wise rulers rule benevolently

By Jerry Mills

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has made plain that he will not invite President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to China unless Chen first agrees to Beijing's "one China" policy. That precondition is an oxymoron.

Under the "one China" policy, Chen is already in China. You don't need a visa to go where you already are. Hu's refusal to allow Chen into China amounts to an endorsement of Chen's policy of "one Strait, two countries."

That little problem aside, it isn't really necessary for Chen to go to China to give a speech. He can speak to the Chinese people from behind his desk at Ketagalan Avenue.

Chen's speech should be diplomatic, in order to assert popular sovereignty, while exuding goodwill and respecting the aspirations of all Chinese-speaking peoples. May I recommend a few lines for that speech?

Chairman Hu, members of the Communist Party, ladies and gentlemen of China:

Jiou he bi fen; jiou fen bi he (久合必分、分久必合).

The couplet that opens and closes The Romance of Three Kingdoms is familiar to anyone who has studied Chinese history. The eight characters express the history of China, the way of the world and the will of heaven. It can best be rendered as "empires wax and wane; states are rent asunder and coalesce."

Government leaders rule best by serving; and, by serving, enjoy the mandate of heaven. Wise rulers rule benevolently; the wisest rulers rule invisibly. Government leaders secure the safety and happiness of the people they serve, and enjoy the mandate of heaven as long as they serve in this manner.

Recently, the Republic of China (ROC) held elections for the National Assembly, and talk of referenda and constitutional change are in the air. In the interest of peace across the Taiwan Strait, we must respect the aspirations of Chinese-speaking people everywhere.

The Constitution by which Taiwan is presently governed claims that the ROC governs the people of China, which, clearly, is not the case. At the same time, since the Constitution was ratified while Taiwan was a part of Japan, the ROC Constitution forbids the ROC from governing Taiwan; which, in fact, is almost the only spot of ground on earth that the ROC actually does govern. No one in his right mind can take seriously a constitution that claims powers it cannot exercise and forbids it to exercise the only powers it is capable of exercising.

Our new constitution will not claim that Taiwan is independent of China. But while many are impatient for unification, many Taiwanese are also impatient for Taiwan to formally separate from China.

But one thing can be agreed on. Both sides face an immense task, and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of a man is so short, and the life of mankind is so long, that we may see only the ebb of advancing ways and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.

And what do we see in the history of China?

Empires wax and wane; states are rent asunder and coalesce. It is the history of China, the way of the world, and the will of heaven.

Jerry Mills

Taipei

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