Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib was the subject of a feature published by the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday that focused on the mayor’s rejection of Beijing’s “one China” principle.
“This article [in a twin cities agreement signed by his predecessor] is a one-sided declaration that Prague agrees with and respects the ‘one China’ principle and such a statement has no place in the sister cities agreement,” Hrib told the Guardian.
China has attempted to sway Hrib, such as when it told the Prague Philharmonia to denounce their mayor as a condition to be allowed to play in China in September last year. The orchestra refused. Support for the mayor’s tough stance on China has also come from think tanks and other democracy proponents in Europe, such as Jakub Janda, a director at the European Values think tank.
Former premier William Lai (賴清德) has defined the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) idea of an “independent Taiwan” as “Taiwan being an independent country named the Republic of China [ROC],” and said that there is no need to declare independence, as Taiwan fits every criterion of a sovereign nation.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on numerous occasions referred to Taiwan as a sovereign, independent nation. On June 14, she told a news conference that, “despite Beijing’s constant suppression of Taiwan’s international space, the Republic of China remains a sovereign nation and that is a fact Beijing cannot deny.”
Whether recognized as such or not, Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation. It rules itself, it has its own internationally traded currency, its own passport, its own military, an elected president, its own territory and it conducts its own international affairs. Regardless of who agrees, those things constitute the very definition of an independent nation.
However, the one challenge that remains — the one thing that allows Beijing to continue pressing this independent nation — is the very same “one China” principle that Hrib has spoken out against.
Under Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), this was a concept to which Taiwan also adhered. To this day, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) continues to insist that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is a part of that China.
However, Taiwan is no longer under martial law and the KMT no longer holds absolute power. As Lai said, Taiwan need not declare independence, because it is already independent. However, it does need to hold a referendum on a “two Chinas” policy.
The idea that Taiwan’s military would one day take China has long been put to rest and most people are wholeheartedly opposed to being ruled by the Chinese Communist Party in any shape or form. Therefore, Taiwan must remain independent, which means there are “two Chinas.”
Taiwan has agreed not to rewrite the Constitution or to formally declare independence as part of its commitments to the US’ Taiwan Relations Act. However, declaring that there are “two Chinas” and imploring other nations to recognize this would not be the same as declaring independence, because it does not change anything in terms of how Taiwan is ruled, nor does it require rewriting the Constitution.
From a constitutional perspective, declaring “two Chinas” would only involve removing Articles 26-2 and 26-3 — which refer to Mongolia and Tibet respectively — from the Constitution and abandoning the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China (中華民國憲法增修條文) introduced by then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in 1991. The additional articles do not specifically define the territory governed by the ROC, but they refer to the “free area” (自由地區), which is contrasted with the “mainland.”
There still might not be enough consensus in Taiwan to declare a new nation, but at the very least Taiwan should implore the world to recognize the sovereignty of the ROC.
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