Thu, Aug 02, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Book review: A deep dive in to the ‘one China’ policy

Frank Chiang of New York’s Fordham Law School examines in great detail this much-discussed but little understood topic

By Gerrit van der Wees  /  Contributing reporter

He thus subscribes to the “declaratory theory,” unlike his well-known Taiwanese colleague Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志), chairman of Taiwan New Century Foundation and professor emeritus at the New York Law School, who has argued in favor of the “evolutionary theory,” under which an entity gradually evolves into a state, as it fulfills the requirements of the 1933 Montevideo Convention, which is generally accepted as the definition of a state: defined territory, permanent population, a functioning government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

The work is excellent in that it is highly readable, avoiding complex legal phraseology and discussing the key issues in a clear fashion.

On the minus side, somehow the author gets quite a number of dates and specific facts wrong: Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) died in 1975, not in 1978 (page 137); the woman selling contraband cigarettes that led to the 228 Incident was beaten by Monopoly Bureau officials, but did not die: a bystander was shot and killed (page 132). Carnegie Mellon professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) died in 1981 after being questioned by officers of the Taiwan Garrison Command (one of the secret police organizations at the time), not by Military Security Guards (page 140). The Olympic Games agreement to use “Chinese Taipei” stems from the so-called Nagoya Resolution of 1979, not from 1988 (page 174).

Overall conclusion: highly recommended for those who wish to understand the ins and outs of the “one China policy.” The work dispenses with a number of major misperceptions which have muddied the understanding of the concept. It does present a clear vision for Taiwan’s future as a free and democratic country, but makes the road ahead more cumbersome by subscribing to the “declaratory theory” instead of the “evolutionary theory.”

Under the former, Taiwan would need to declare itself an independent state. Under the latter, it is already a sovereign state, and diplomatic ties will materialize as it asserts itself on the international stage as a free and democratic nation. Chiang has provided an excellent basis for the undoubtedly extensive further analyses and intensive discussions to come.

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