Mon, Jul 16, 2007 - Page 8 News List

The treaty trumps the communique

By Alison Hsieh

The credit for democratizing Taiwan, therefore, should be given to open-minded former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), a native of Taiwan.

Lee's gradual democratization of Taiwan solved only half of the nation's problems, but the other half -- people's wish for independence -- continues to be unresolved because of the US' decision to switch strategic partners from Chiang's regime to Beijing, followed by its reliance on a status-quo in the Taiwan Strait.

In the Shanghai Communique, the US acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China. The US government does not challenge that position.

However, for the majority of Taiwanese who never identified themselves as Chinese, the Chinese on Taiwan's side as defined in the communique do not include them.

In fact, the Chinese on this side are but a small portion of Chiang's people who followed him in 1949 to take refuge in Taiwan.

In other words, most Taiwanese do not agree with the communique and its statement to the effect that Taiwan is part of China.

The communists' version of China is the PRC while the KMT's version of China is the ROC.

The communique was but a press release, convenient for establishing China-US relations, with each side adopting its own interpretation of the what the communique meant.

The PRC's view was that the US recognizes "one China" and that this China is the PRC, while the US's view is that they only acknowledge the view of the Chinese on both sides of the Strait.

There is no such thing in history as a government in exile that takes over a land that is its temporary refuge and then claims it as its own.

For example, if the Tibetan leadership were to set up a government-in-exile in, say, India, it could not claim any part of India as actually belonging to Tibet.

Following this logic, the ROC has no legal claim whatsoever over Taiwan. The PRC, which took over the UN seat from the ROC in 1971, also has no legal claim over Taiwan.

Since Taiwanese now enjoy freedom of expression, they should normalize their country by self-determination on their country's name.

Taiwan is a case of delayed justice and continuous betrayals. Past mistakes, therefore, must be corrected now.

Western countries that claim to support democracy and freedom must be much more assertive in their support for Taiwan's right to self-determination.

Their prevailing lip-service to the status quo fails to recognize that China's missiles are the destabilizing factor in the Taiwan Strait.

Furthermore, while these countries regularly hold their own referendums, their failure to support democratic referendums on Taiwan betrays their hypocrisy and cowardice.

The 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law reminds us of how far Taiwan has come since the dark days of the KMT dictatorship.

However, it should also serve as a reminder that the fight for the rights of Taiwanese is not yet complete.

Alison Hsieh is a Europe researcher at the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.

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