In an interview published on Monday in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), former presidential adviser and Taiwan Brain Trust founder Koo Kwang-min (辜寬敏) talked about his view of relations across the Taiwan Strait, saying he hoped Taiwan and China could become “fraternal countries.”
This idea is understandable, because Taiwan and China have many historical and cultural connections, but it is only possible if they respect each other’s sovereignty and national status and help and support one another.
Since its establishment in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has never treated Taiwan as a brother. At one point, it even went so far as to threaten Taiwanese with talk of the People’s Liberation Army washing Taiwan with blood.
Evidently China, with its materialist communist ideology, has its sights set on seizing Taiwan’s 36,000km2 of land, but it does not regard Taiwanese as people with souls and dignity. It is not surprising, therefore, that China does not go along with Koo’s idea that people are more important than territory.
Koo said that China needs peace for the sake of its continued development. However, the precondition and basis for peace is justice. Justice means mutual respect and treating each other as equals — only then can one have real and lasting peace.
That is why the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, in its “Public Statement on the Sovereignty of Taiwan” it released on Aug. 20, 1991, called for a new relationship to be established between Taiwan and China.
“According to the principle of mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence, Taiwan and China should mutually recognize and respect each other and promote harmony and development in Asia and in the Pacific,” it said.
Taiwan and Japan can also be fraternal countries, because they also have many historical and cultural connections. When Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, it made great contributions to its culture and infrastructure.
In the postwar years, following the relocation of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government under Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to Taiwan, Japan greatly assisted Taiwan’s economic construction and industrial development. Moreover, when the 921 Earthquake hit the nation in 1999, an impressive amount of Japanese aid flowed to Taiwan.
Taiwanese never forgot such generosity, so when Japan suffered a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster earlier this year, Taiwanese donated more than NT$5 billion (US$172 million), making Taiwan the biggest donor country. Indeed, Taiwan and Japan are brothers in adversity.
As well as becoming a fraternal country with China, Taiwan would be better off and more secure if it could have brotherly relations with Japan, Korea, the Philippines, the US and with every country in the world.
If we could do that, little brother Taiwan would not have to put up with being knocked around if big brother China should ever lose his temper. Actually, all countries and peoples of the world should be brothers and sisters in one big human family. Surely that is why the UN was established.
William J.K. Lo is president of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance.
Translated by Julian Clegg