Recently, the Institute for National Policy Research released a public opinion survey on the possibility of abolishing the unification guidelines. The results of the survey indicate that 51 percent of respondents do not support the idea that Taiwan must eventually unify with China, 68 percent said that it is necessary to review the feasibility of scrapping the doctrine aiming to achieve cross-strait unification, and that 78 percent said they agreed with the contention that Taiwan's future should be decided by its people. This is a reflection of mainstream public opinion.
President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent proposal to scrap the National Unification Council and unification guidelines came as a surprise to the US, especially as the US is now wrapped up in combating global terrorism and has relegated the cross-strait issue to the sidelines. However, the US should not adopt a passive attitude to the issue or even view Taiwan as a burden, but should rather use the issue to promote the idea of freedom to countries around the world. Aren't democratic elections in Iraq and the Taiwanese people's wish to decide their own future both examples of the values that the US is attempting to promulgate around the world?
The US still does not understand how to cope with China's "Anti-Secession" Law. The only thing that the US can do is to ask China to negotiate with Taiwan's democratically elected government. However, Beijing does not want to comply. China's growing military capabilities pose a threat to US interests. Chen's proposal to scrap the government agency and the doctrine, whose goal is the achievement of cross-strait unification, is the best way to deter China's ambitions. Surely then, he is working in favor of US interests.
Chen's recent proposal suggests that the government has begun to treat public opinion with the respect it deserves.
If Taiwan is to abandon the goal of cross-strait unification, it can be construed as a move toward democracy, for such a move will allow Taiwanese to decide their own future. If the US supports Taiwan's movement toward democracy, then it will help to bring about a change to China's brutal regime, boost global counter-terrorism efforts and even help to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
Paul Lin is a writer based in the US.
TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG
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