Wed, Dec 13, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Give nation a new name and a new constitution

By Hsueh Hua-yuan 薛化元

The question of the relationship between Taiwan and the Republic of China (ROC) has been a flashpoint in Taiwanese politics for a long time. During the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) time in power, the title "Republic of China" has rapidly been adopted as acceptable, as the "status quo."

In terms of concrete policy, even though the governing and opposition parties have different views on the relationship between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China (PRC), the ROC has become mainstream in the nation's political scene, though it is defined in different ways.

Many years of education obliging students to identify with the country "China" has obstructed formation of a national consciousness of Taiwan as a sovereign nation. In addition, foreign diplomacy has always been led by those who subscribed to the "one China" and ROC concepts.

Today it is possible to separate the two Chinas represented by the PRC and the ROC. This is no small development. In particular, the ROC government has long since terminated efforts to "suppress the rebellion" in China, and has recognized the PRC.

If the PRC were also willing to accept that its revolution is complete and give up claims to the ROC, then the lingering issue of the Chinese Civil War could be resolved. But as the PRC insists on its right to succeed the ROC government under the "one China" policy, the Chinese Civil War continues as Taiwan tries to develop itself into a normal country.

Looking at it historically, ever since the UN passed Albania's proposal for the PRC to inherit the ROC right to represent China in 1971, anyone who wants to advocate that Taiwan shouldn't accept China's control of the position must consider the meaning of Taiwanese sovereignty.

Set against the backdrop of this era, political thinker Lei Chen (雷震), who originally had supported the ROC's approach to "oppose communism with democracy," became deeply worried that the rapidly deteriorating international situation that had resulted from the recognition of the PRC as the only China would create a legal foundation for its sovereignty claims over Taiwan.

In 1972, Lei proposed changing the ROC's title to the Democratic State of Taiwan-China (中華台灣民主國) independent of the PRC under a "two-China" model as a strategy to maintain Taiwan's position as a sovereign nation. It's worth noting that even though this approach adopted a so-called "two China" structure, Taiwan still needed to establish this nation with the people's consent.

In other words, it was to be a new sovereign nation and not merely an inheritance of the ROC.

Therefore, in consideration of creating a new constitution, amending the national title and moving beyond the Chinese Civil War, it is important from a legal perspective for the Taiwanese to exercise their right as sovereign citizens to create a new constitution and to clearly express that they have established an independent nation separate of China.

Hsueh Hua-yuan is the director of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan History at National Chengchi University.

Translated by Marc Langer

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