At the London School of Economics (LSE) last Thursday, Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (
Tu, an LSE graduate, was invited to deliver a speech on educational reforms and the future of the nation. He was introduced as the education minister of Taiwan.
During his speech, Chinese students in the audience held up signs reading: "Stop cultural brainwashing" and "Taiwan is a part of China."
A shouting match between Chinese and Taiwanese students broke out. Tu was also challenged by Chinese students during a question and answer session following his speech.
They asked Tu whether he "acknowledged" Chinese culture and what he meant by "Taiwan's sovereignty" in his speech.
In view of the disruption and attempted provocation, Tu performed admirably. He did not avoid the questions.
Tu, poised and unperturbed, responded calmly, noting Taiwan's values, rights and freedoms. He emphasized to his audience that Taiwan, as a democratic country, would decide its own future according to the will of its people.
Taiwan needs more officials like Tu -- officials who are unyielding in stressful situations that are used to belittle the nation.
Also last week, President Chen Shui-bian (
Chen downplayed the event afterwards, saying it resulted from the general international confusion regarding Taiwan and China. Whatever the reason behind such confusion, Chen, as head of state, should have taken a more active gesture and lodged a protest.
It is the government's job to uphold the identity and dignity of the nation, both in word and deed.
After all, China is China and Taiwan is Taiwan. The two should not be confused, even if the majority of the international community purposely does so.
Taiwan is a sovereign state with its own government, elections, currency and territory. It negotiates its own treaties and has its own president.
Let Taiwanese keep Taiwan, and by the same token, let the Chinese keep China.
The international community talking so highly of democracy is being hypocritical by ignoring Taiwan's plight. Taiwan must demand respect from the international community and make its identity clear. If Taiwan does not work to counter international "confusion" itself, we cannot expect the situation to improve.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky said: "If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you."
The same applies to Taiwan's situation and international ignorance, indifference or confusion about Taiwan and China.
No one, especially officials, should give anyone the opportunity to insult Taiwan.
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