Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 8

ROC as relevant as the dodo

Changing the names of Taiwan's businesses to erase references to China is a great idea that should have been done long ago. Who, apart from locals would know or believe that China Airlines does not even fly to China? It is both ridiculous and confusing. These companies are an unwelcome reminder of the post-civil war era when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) still harbored foolish dreams of one day returning to its beloved motherland. Pan-blue politicians and supporters will inevitably complain that this is President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) latest maneuver in his independence-by-stealth campaign. But this is just the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) way of gradually erasing the fallacy that is the Republic of China (ROC) from the view of the world and it should be congratulated.

Who but the pitiful KMT and their supporters could deny the Taiwanese people the chance to assert some form of identity for themselves and their nation, after a century or more of repression and imposition from different peoples? Those who still believe in a ROC and that Taiwan is a part of today's China should be given the chance to move back to their homeland across the Taiwan strait. There they will realize that apart from economic growth, things are not as rosy as they seem -- especially if they practice Falun Gong, protest against social justice, set up a labor union, or try to run as a candidate for democracy in China's sham local elections. They are more used to authoritarian rule, where money talks, loyalty is rewarded over talent, and you do as we say, or you go to prison. They are still finding it hard to adjust to the hard-won democracy that the people of Taiwan have achieved.

The ROC is about as relevant today as the dodo. And those who endlessly carp on about it are living in denial. Does Mexico still consider itself the legitimate government of the western part of America? Does Germany still lay claim to Austria and the other lands it conquered during the course of World War II? Of course not. Wars are won and lost, governments fall, and (some) people admit defeat.

No wonder KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) cannot bring himself to admit defeat in the presidential election, when the very society he lives in has failed to admit the death of an institution that occurred over 50 years ago. It's about time those whiners realize how lucky they are not to be living on the other side of the Strait and admit the reality of their situation. They do not live in China anymore, and deny it as they might Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation in all but international status. And changing the name of a few institutions is just one of the first steps in the journey to finally ridding Taiwan of its unwelcome legacy.

Richard Hazeldine


Aussies not on China's side

The Taipei Times does its credibility a disservice by publishing Yang Chih-heng's article ("Australia siding with China in the Pacific," Dec. 8, page 8).

Australia, as the donor of relatively large amounts of foreign aid, has its own very real and genuine concerns as to how Vanuatu is be governed, and ensuring that such liquid aid is being allocated with probity and transparency. The timing of her actions in the South Pacific were no doubt dictated by the increase in instability in the island nation's political scene -- an instability that Taiwan itself has utilized to attain recognition from yet another a foreign nation.

While the two moves may have been synchronous, and the triggers identical, the motives would appear poles apart. It could well be argued that Taiwan itself has been the political agitator in this instance, as your motives for gaining recognition are not arguably altruistic. Rather than "helping China interfere," it is a statement of fact that Australia has made no conditions on the supply of aid relative to Vanuatu's relationship with Taiwan. Its "interference" is the action of a donor nation ensuring that welfare given in good faith is delivered to those it was intended for, nothing more.

As for Australia "shifting the focus from Europe to Asia," Yang again misleads your readership. Under the Howard government, Australia has in fact turned its focus back toward the US, and to a lesser degree, the UK, shunning the pro-Asia advances made in the early 1990s under former prime minister Paul Keating's labor government. Military support, political support, and the creation of a free-trade agreement are bonds that have been recently forged among the "coalition of the willing" -- the US, the UK and Australia.

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed told the world this week that we [Australians] are "Europeans... who have nothing to offer the ASEAN pact." Hardly a focus on Asia. It may come as a disappointment to your readers to learn that Australians are relatively uneducated about the Taiwan-China impasse. Right or wrong, our local economy, interest rates, illegal immigrants and homeland security form the nucleus of our immediate concerns. Our big businesses see China as a market for our natural resources -- and hopefully our skilled labor -- but to suggest that we would be either wanting, or needing, to act as a puppet for China in Oceania is to create a specter that simply does not exist.

Wayne Kerr