Still, those reforms pointed the way forward for the nation’s democratization and localization by allowing more seats for Taiwanese and appointing young Taiwanese to intermediate levels to improve the government’s legitimacy and representativeness domestically.
Such perfunctory reform did not meet the people’s demands for democratization and legitimate government nor did it define the new national status to the outside world in to deal with China’s diplomatic blockade.
Although Chiang Ching-Kuo continued his unilateral calls for using the “Three Principles of the People” to unify China, he was firmly opposed to peace talks and Beijing’s united front tactics and did not work to build a consensus.
Based on his strategy to protect Taiwan, he firmly separated Taiwan from China and protected its independent status.
In contrast to Chiang Ching-kuo’s reform, the most complete and confident strategy for safeguarding and defending Taiwan was proposed by then-vice minister of foreign affairs Yang Hsi-kun (楊西崑), who was nicknamed “Mr Africa.”
Yang’s suggestions included: Dismissing the legislature and establishing a temporary legislature with two-thirds of the seats reserved for Taiwanese and one-third for Mainlanders; allowing the general public to decide Taiwan’s future status through a referendum; changing the national title to the “Republic of Chinese Taiwan” to declare that the Taiwanese government was completely unrelated to China or the Chinese government and stressing that the word “Chinese” in the new title merely referred to the fact that Taiwanese were of Chinese descent and held no other political significance.
The logic of Yang’s strategy was simple: To redistribute power through democratic means, solve the government’s lack of representativeness and legitimacy, and to confirm Taiwan’s sovereignty through democratic referendum, establishing a new country that did not fall under China’s jurisdiction or claim jurisdiction over China.
Neither Chiang Kai-shek nor his son took up Yang’s democratic strategy, but some of his suggestions were implemented later.
For example, Chang Ching-kuo agreed to remain member of the Asian Development Bank under the name “Taipei, China” in 1986 and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) implemented the full re-election of the legislature, resulting in Taiwanese being elected to more than two-thirds of all legislative seats.
The Constitution, which was written and passed without the input of Taiwanese, has since been amended seven times by the Taiwanese-dominated legislature.
With the idea of “the Republic of China on Taiwan,” Lee also said that relations between Taiwan and China were a matter of “state-to-state relations” or “special state-to-state relations.”
Lee and former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) insisted on the “localization” of the ROC and its de facto independence that separated Taiwan from China.
Most people understood that these pro-Taiwanese governments were not opposed to having ties to China, but that Chinese annexation would be opposed and the refusal to compromise on the sovereignty issue would continue.
The Ma government has since reversed the reform efforts safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty.
It should be noted that Yang was a Mainlander, but his suggestions were similar to those in the Declaration of Formosan Self-Salvation proposed in 1964 by former presidential advisor Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) and his then students, Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏) and Wei Ting-chao (魏廷朝), which came with complete complementary measures and thorough reform.