A recent editorial ("A lesson from the education minister," Jan. 18, page 8) mentioned that President Chen Shui-bian (
It said, "Chen should have lodged a protest. It is the government's job to uphold the identity and dignity of the nation, both in word and deed."
While I have sympathy for this opinion, I feel that Taiwan's political class and media are far too wedded to the idea of "protesting."
The message that I see coming from Taiwan is overwhelmingly: "We're not China."
It is a negative, reactive stance that does no favors to Taiwan's image.
Chen most certainly should not have lodged a protest in Nicaragua. Such formalities are the job of embassy functionaries, not heads of state.
Chen's smoothing over of the error may have been too conciliatory, but the last thing a mature state wants to see is their leader quibbling over words.
If Taiwan wishes to project an image that differentiates it from China, there are many aspects of Taiwanese life that it could choose to highlight: democracy, human rights, a free press, value-added businesses, etc.
These aspects all need to be presented independently, not in the context of comparisons with China.
Taiwan needs to find proactive and innovative ways of presenting itself, and to stop simply reacting to statements and actions by the PRC.
Finally, I want to suggest that worrying about Taiwan's image is a rather secondary duty of the government.
A responsible government should be focused on providing for the welfare of its people. A truly confident nation does not waste time worrying about its image; it simply goes out and creates one.
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