Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Match deeds to words

By Rao Kok-Sian

US President George Bush should be given credit for his speech praising Taiwan's democracy. Indeed, Taiwan's struggle for democracy should be a model for all nations who need it. This recognition has been overdue, but better late than never. As a Taiwanese-American, I salute Bush.

On the other hand, I am not sure whether I should applaud the encouragement to Chinese leaders to "emulate Chinese democracy in Taiwan," because I am totally confused by the disconnect between words and deeds. Just look at the humiliation that Taiwan has experienced in the international community. Taiwan's elected leaders and officials are restricted from traveling in many parts of the world, and their representatives are not welcome in international meetings. Their passport is useless in most parts of the world.

Taiwanese leaders have visited the US, but no welcoming ceremonies have been held for presidents for decades. Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had to sleep overnight on a plane at the Los Angeles International Airport while transiting to South American nations for state visits. He had to become a "private citizen" before being welcomed on Capitol Hill.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) used to be a NASA engineer and traveled everywhere in the US before he went back to Taiwan to further the nation's democracy. But once he took office as foreign minister, he was denied entry to Washington to visit his daughter. If I were a Chinese leader, I would have taken the hint. Why bother with democracy? Military might is the only way to go.

The international community has violated the human rights of Taiwanese residents and has also pushed Taiwan to accept China's terms for unification -- just like European countries were pushed to accept Nazi Germany before World War II.

Almost all nations use "Taiwan" to refer to the nation, but Taiwanese residents have to call their offices "Chinese Taipei" and salute to a flag with no national identity. After Taiwanese give up their freedom and dignity, who will be next? Why it is so hard to say "we agree to disagree" about the way Taiwan should be treated? The treatment that Taiwan gets while trying to keep its dignity and open, democratic way of life are humiliations to humanity.

Deeds and words never go hand in hand for politicians. Why is it that Bush can sit and drink tea with the Dalai Lama, but cannot meet President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) anywhere in the US? The US Congress is seeking ways to "upgrade" its ties with Taiwan and grant the nation a better status. That would be a welcome sign that the US actually means what it says about encouraging nations to embrace democracy -- and that it backs up its words with deeds.

Rao Kok-Sian

Boston, Massachusetts

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