Mon, Nov 12, 2012 - Page 8 News List

It is time for a little brotherly love

By Koo Kwang-ming 辜寬敏

Six or seven years ago, I first proposed a China policy called “Brother Countries”. I did so for a very important reason. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the expulsion of the Republic of China (ROC) from the UN in 1971, Taiwan’s main problem, both internationally and domestically, and in particular in its relations with China, has been constant obstruction by China. In terms of the cross-strait situation, China will accept neither the “special state-to-state relations” concept proposed by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), nor the view that there is “one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait” as proposed by another former president, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Instead, China has continued to insist on the “one country, two systems” solution, which is similarly unacceptable to Taiwanese.

The upshot is that relations between Taiwan and China have been treading water for a long time. Although Taiwanese may disagree with China on a lot of issues, for example over its missile threat against the nation and its suppression of Taiwan in the international arena, it is very clear that if the China issue cannot be resolved, Taiwan cannot become a dignified, “regular” country that can make its people proud. That is why I began to think about ways to resolve the cross-strait impasse.

I was enlightened by a line in an old Chinese poem describing the plight of two brothers. It reminded me of the international pressure China is placing on Taiwan today.

I hope that the “Brother Countries” core concept will help normalize relations with China. Taiwan and China must be able to maintain a normal relationship to give Taiwan a real chance of survival and space to develop. Within Taiwanese society, a common understanding must be reached on China policy. Only through domestic consolidation will the nation be able to hold its own against the rest of the world.

That is why I have been constantly advocating my policy over the past seven years. Both in China’s and Taiwan’s cultural and moral traditions, the relationship between father and son is an absolute relationship, but the relationship between brothers is a relationship between equals.

The elder brother cares for the younger and the younger brother respects the elder one. This is the nature of the relationship between brothers, and the relationship between China and Taiwan should be seen as a relationship between brothers.

Taiwan’s development has not always been smooth sailing. For a long time, the nation was ruled by foreign rulers and the people of Taiwan have had to work hard to build the beautiful country that they live in today. China should be proud of its little brother. Now that he has grown up and established himself, they should congratulate him and treat him with respect.

However, China behaves like an old-style imperialist, unilaterally declaring that Taiwan is part of its territory instead of treating little brother Taiwan well.

The only reason the Chinese economy has developed so rapidly is because Taiwan has provided a lot of investment and assistance. Taiwanese have made great contributions to China, but still the country is not recognized within the international community.

This is an issue where the older sibling should help its little brother along. China should act like a big brother and try to understand what it is that Taiwan needs most today. It should formally recognize that Taiwan is a country in its own right and help Taiwan gain UN membership. If it does that, Chinese would win the gratitude of future generations of Taiwanese.

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