Tue, Apr 03, 2012 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Solving constitutional conundrums

Former legislator, writer and TV personality Li Ao (李敖) is right about Taiwan — according to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution, it is part of China. That is precisely why the Constitution should be rewritten, to reflect the reality that Taiwan is an independent country in all but name and is separate from the country that really controls the bulk of China, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Although Li considers himself to be Chinese and supports unification, his views about the ROC Constitution are not all that different from those of staunch Taiwan independence advocates. Both recognize that the current Constitution is a Chinese constitution and that the ROC as defined by the Constitution is China, not Taiwan.

For Taiwan to be independent, it must have a constitution that claims only the territory that the sovereign government of Taiwan actually holds, namely, Taiwan and a few small islands.

Until that is done, Taiwan and China may be separate in reality, but according to the law, they are parts of the same country.

Li often makes another point, that it is bogus to say that 23 million Taiwanese have the right to decide their own future. He makes this assertion based on the legality of the ROC Constitution, which claims sovereignty over the PRC. Because Taiwan is a democracy, don’t those 1.3 billion people also get to vote about Taiwan’s future? That would be constitutional, according to Li’s view.

And again, Li is right. The ROC Constitution lays claim to the area governed by the PRC, even Mongolia, and Taiwan is a democratic country, so how can the desires of the people in these places be represented?

The simple answer is that they cannot. The very idea is absurd, even if it is constitutional. This is another reason to revise the Constitution.

The US had a similar constitutional problem when it was made up of 13 independent colonies that joined together to gain independence from Britain. The first order of business in that fight for independence was the Declaration of Independence, later followed by a constitution that asserted legal separation from Britain.

Before either of those documents were written, the colonies already exercised a sort of de facto independence for years because of their distance from London. However, to gain real independence, they had to have a US constitution laying out in detail their territorial claims.

If Taiwan is ever to be independent, it has to have a constitution that declares its separation from China, not just the ROC or the PRC. It also has to drop its claims to all areas in China.

Of course, any such move would result in war with China, another point that Li loves to make. The US had to fight a brutal eight year war with Britain to gain independence and they had an ocean between them in an age long before airplanes, missiles and cyberwarriors.

However, although Li has many good points to make, one thing he, and others, are unable to gauge is the willingness of Taiwanese to stand up for their nation. Only time will tell in that regard.

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