Many parts of former United Microelectronics Corp chairman Robert Tsao's (
First, Tsao says that Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC), cannot hold an independence referendum because it has already stated that it is independent. Holding an independence referendum would mean that the ROC is not an independent state. This is a contradiction. However, he neglects the fact that holding a unification referendum is also a contradiction.
The premise for unification is that there has been a separation, and if Taiwan were to hold a unification referendum, it would mean recognizing that Taiwan is part of China on the assumption that it is merely temporarily separated from China and unification would someday follow. By holding a unification referendum, Taiwan would degrade itself into being a territory separated from China rather than being an independent state even before the referendum were held, not to mention the fact that the international community would get the impression that the country that separated is the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Second, Tsao proposed a law rather than a treaty. Formal agreements between two or more states are treaties, while a law is a legal agreement established within a nation.
If the document to be signed by both parties is a law, then the cross-strait relationship has already been defined as domestic rather than international relations. In other words, Taiwan will have surrendered and denied its independence even before the law has been signed.
Third, Tsao didn't set a stop-loss point for Taiwan, instead allowing for China to ask Taiwan to hold a unification referendum once every decade an unlimited number of times until Taiwan is unified with China.
This is clearly unfair to Taiwan. Why is the Taiwanese public only allowed a referendum on whether they want unification or not? Tsao's proposed unification referendum will only have meaning if a unification referendum is not passed and China therefore recognizes Taiwan as an independent state.
Finally, Tsao said the Chinese government should make public the details and concrete implementation of its proposal for a "high degree of autonomy" for Taiwan along with the rights and obligations that Taiwanese whould enjoy after unification with China so that they can make a well-informed decision.
Tsao might not be aware of the following history: In 1951, the PRC forced the Tibetan government to sign the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet so that China could occupy Tibet in the name of autonomy. Although the Dalai Lama today only seeks meaningful autonomy for Tibet rather than independence, even that is impossible. When the Chinese government promises Taiwan a "high degree of autonomy," can they really be trusted?
Kuo Cheng-deng is director of the Graduate Institute of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine at National Yang Ming University.
Translated by Ted Yang