Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Official clarifications

Professor Chiang Huang-chih (姜皇池) of National Taiwan University published an opinion piece in the Taipei Times (“Ma should study the fine print of legal texts,” June 8, page 8). The article contains several inaccuracies which the Presidential Office would like to clarify.

On page 343 of the fifth edition of International Law: Cases and Materials written by the American academics Lori Damrosch, Louis Henkin, Sean Murphy and Hans Smit and published in 2009, the authors commented on changes in Taiwan’s political situation after 2000. They wrote that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was strongly sympathetic to Taiwanese independence, that he proposed the “one country on each side” (一邊一國) policy in 2007 to separate Taiwan from China, suggested the creation of a new constitution and twice attempted, but failed, to push through a referendum on a Taiwanese bid to enter the UN.

The authors then wrote that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who proposed the concept of “mutual non-denial” to improve cross-strait relations during the 2008 presidential elections, went on to win that election. The book stated: “As such, the likelihood of Taiwan seeking independence appears to have diminished.” The authors of the book did not say that Ma’s concept of mutual non-denial would jeopardize national sovereignty, so when Chiang claims that it would, that is clearly his personal opinion and not that of the authors.

The concepts of “mutual non-recognition of sovereignty and mutual non-denial of authority to govern” are based on the Constitution, because according to the Constitution, the government cannot recognize the existence of another sovereign state on the Chinese mainland. The government thus denies the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and not its own sovereignty. Chiang has clearly misunderstood this point. The Constitution is the supreme guiding principle for handling cross-strait relations. The concept will consolidate the sovereignty of the Republic of China (ROC), not jeopardize it.

Chiang also wrote that the book lumping Taiwan together with Hong Kong and Macao has a negative effect on Taiwan’s independence. However, the book divides political entities with special statuses into five different categories, putting the Vatican in Category A, Palestine in Category B, Taiwan in Category C, Hong Kong and Macao in Category D and other special entities in Category E. Taiwan, then, is not grouped with Hong Kong and Macao.

Chiang’s worries about a negative effect are confusing. Given his logic, should the Vatican and Palestine also worry about negative effects because they are treated as special entities just like Hong Kong and Macao?

Moreover, Chiang worries that “given Ma’s comments [about ‘one ROC, two areas’], it would not be so strange if in the future, mainstream legal textbooks from the West start viewing Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as the same — ‘special administrative regions’ of China.” In fact, the definition of “one ROC, two areas” comes from the definition of a “Free Area” (自由地區) and a “Mainland Area” (大陸地區) in Article 11 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution. This amendment was promulgated in 1991, during then-president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) presidency, and three subsequent presidents have made no change to the article over the past 21 years. It is certainly not a new invention of Ma’s.

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