Tue, Jul 05, 2016 - Page 8 News List

The great ‘Chinese Taipei’ enigma

By Chris Huang 黃居正

When asked during a legislative question-and-answer session about Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien’s (林奏延) use of “Chinese Taipei” to describe Taiwan in his address at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said: “Chinese Taipei is the Republic of China [ROC].”

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) does not think the expression is denigrating either, a view that has been met with criticism from both the pan-green and pan-blue camps. Both Tsai and Lin Chuan sincerely believe that the “ROC” that claims to represent China has already passed on, but the remnants of that state continue to occupy Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. This local, but factually existing, nation is called “Chinese Taipei” by more than 170 countries.

The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei) that Tsai helped bring into the WTO is legally called “Chinese Taipei.” Just like other intergovernmental organizations that allow meaningful participation — such as the WHA and the International Civil Aviation Organization — the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the North Pacific Fisheries Commission, which Taiwan just joined, also use “Chinese Taipei.”

This is because if the name “Republic of China” is used, it covers a larger area than the area currently occupied by the government, and it would infringe on the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) right of representation as stipulated in UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and thus also on international law.

So why not simply use “Taiwan?” Because given the current situation, Taiwan is only the colloquial name of a geographical region. The “ROC” is not Taiwan, but the authority ruling Taiwan, and its current name is “Chinese Taipei.” Former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were both referred to as “presidents from Taiwan” (the geographical location). Tsai also refers to herself as the “President of Taiwan (ROC)” when visiting diplomatic allies, and on Wednesday last week her administration appointed the next governor of “Taiwan Province, Republic of China.”

This makes it easier to understand that the Democratic Progressive Party’s version of the transitional justice bill only covers the authoritarian era from 1945 to 1991: The predecessor state to “Chinese Taipei” was the “ROC,” which only occupied Taiwan in 1945. The historical injustices perpetrated prior to that time were not carried out by “Chinese Taipei.” In addition, an occupying state cannot inherit sovereignty over Taiwan, so how would it be able to carry out transitional justice for the previous period?

Faced with the “Chinese Taipei” status quo, the pro-

independence faction will surely wonder why they are fighting and who they are fighting for. Whatever they do, they must not think like that, and they must not get stuck on the use of “Chinese Taipei” as a way of bringing about self-determination and independence. Compared with the governments that formulated the National Unification Guidelines (國統綱領) or the view that Taiwanese independence is impossible or the Ma administration, which tried to use the “1992 consensus” to rule Taiwan together with China, Tsai and her administration’s “Chinese Taipei” is the friendliest government that has occupied Taiwan in the past 70 years.

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