Sun, Jun 19, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Gradual unification a major threat

The Liberty Times Editorial

At a June 6 talk with a delegation from the Mainland Affairs Council, Heritage Foundation research fellow John Tkacik said he didn't understand what people meant by "Taiwan independence." He's even more stumped by some people's insistence that they are not pro-China but simply "oppose Taiwan independence." Tkacik thinks that last phrase sounds synonymous with "surrender," and that Taiwan should be more worried about gradual unification than so-called "gradual independence." After all, Taiwan has its own military, government, stamps and taxation system -- so as far as the US is concerned, Taiwan is already independent.

Tkacik is a US expert on cross-strait issues, and his points should be carefully considered by the government. The following analysis is presented as a reference and reminder to our fellow citizens.

In 1895 China's Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan. Japan was later defeated in World War II, surrendering in 1945. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur, ordered the commander of the Chinese war zone to arrive in Taiwan and Penghu to accept the surrender of the Japanese army -- but not to accept the handing over of sovereignty. In 1952, Japan ceded Taiwan under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, but that treaty did not specify the recipient of Taiwan's sovereignty. From then on, under public international law, the sovereignty of Taiwan has belonged to Taiwan.

Taiwan is already an independent country. The Republic of China was just the government ordered by MacArthur to occupy and govern Taiwan. Under the circumstances, the ROC government should have held elections and adopted a new national name and government structures to reflect the fact that the sovereignty of Taiwan belonged to Taiwan, and not Japan.

But out of selfishness, the government did not so do -- a lapse which is the root of many problems still facing Taiwan. The current campaigns to rectify the national title, adopt a new constitution and revise history and geography textbooks are measures to address and remedy problems left over since that era.

No wonder people such as Tkacik do not understand what "Taiwan independence" means. "Opposing" Taiwan independence is denying the fact that Taiwan is already an independent and sovereign country, regardless of whether this country is called the Republic of China, the Republic of Taiwan or Taiwan.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) often repeat their opposition to "Taiwan independence." While their intention may be to oppose "Taiwan" or a "Republic of Taiwan," by opposing "independence" they are also opposing the "Republic of China." If the two parties oppose only the use of the names "Taiwan" and "Republic of Taiwan," and not the name "Republic of China," then a more accurate way of describing their position is that they oppose name rectification and a new constitution.

This is why Tkacik does not understand their explanation that they are not pro-China, but just oppose Taiwan independence. For the same reason, we wish that politicians from the nativization camp would avoid using political slogans such as "declaring independence and founding a new country." This is very confusing for people outside of Taiwan. After all, Taiwan is already an independent country. If people are not happy with the name or the constitution, then name rectification, amending the constitution, adopting a new constitution and a nativization campaign are the correct terms that should be used to explain the solutions being sought by Taiwanese. As for international recognition of Taiwan as an independent country, that is another question, as well as something that everyone in Taiwan must work hard to achieve.

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