China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesperson Fan Liqing’s (范麗青) recent statement that “Taiwan’s future must be decided by all Chinese people, including Taiwanese” has been roundly criticized in Taiwan.
Clearly, the vast majority of Taiwanese find such a barbarous, irrational position completely unacceptable. To put it bluntly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not even allow the Chinese public to decide the future of their own country, so how can it believe itself qualified to propose that Taiwan’s future should be decided by ordinary Chinese?
Excepting the ridiculous assertion of the need to “retake the mainland” during the regimes of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son and successor, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), I believe that few Taiwanese have been insane enough to want to decide the future of China on its behalf.
Even in the light of China’s ambitions of unification, the wisdom of Fan’s comments is dubious, to say the least. His words have galvanized dissatisfaction among Taiwanese with the Chinese government.
Indeed, the reaction in Taiwan has forced even President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who sees the eradication of the independence movement and gradual unification with China as his ultimate goal, to grudgingly announce, albeit after hiding away for the best part of the day and through a spokesperson, that “within the framework of the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution, Taiwan’s future shall be decided collectively by the Taiwanese as a whole.”
Of course, it wasn’t long before the online community were pointing out that Ma had actually said during a 2006 interview, for an overseas publication, that the Taiwan question would be decided by the people on either side of the Taiwan Strait, showing Ma once more for the hypocrite that he is.
Nevertheless, the ambitions of Beijing, Ma’s lies and the close connections between the two are old news.
Not only has this affair further consolidated Taiwanese self-awareness, it also provides us with another opportunity to reflect upon the implications of the highest principle to be found in the Constitution, that of “national sovereignty.”
It also facilitates the dismantling of certain logical contradictions and fallacies within the Constitution.
One pertinent question is how do we define the word “citizen” as used in Article 2 of the Constitution, which states: “The sovereignty of the ROC shall reside in the whole body of citizens.” Is this to include the citizens of China?
This question is not just an abstract concept mulled by lawyers and legal experts; it has direct ramifications for the foundations on which our liberal, democratic, constitutional government exists, and is of paramount practical importance.
The answer is, that with the exception of the anachronistic Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ambitions for “legal unification,” no matter how you look at it, the 23 million Taiwanese are the citizens referred to in the Constitution and this does not include the people of “mainland China.”
This leads us to another foil, this time found in Article 11 of the Constitution’s Additional Articles, which states: “The rights and obligations between the people of the Chinese mainland area and those of the free area, and the disposition of other related affairs, may be specified by law.”