The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday lauded the Scottish independence referendum as a triumph of democratic values, while the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said that Taiwan may lose its independence if it relies too much on China economically.
“The DPP admires the Scottish people for expressing their desire for independence through voting, as well as the British government for the tolerance and respect that it demonstrated to the right to self-determination of the Scots along the way,” DPP spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said.
“The entire referendum process is a victory for the Scottish people and for all nations and peoples in the Commonwealth; more importantly, it is a triumph of democratic values,” she added.
She said that by trying to persuade voters through rational debates, both supporters and opponents to the independence proposals have set an example for all people, including Taiwanese.
“The DPP has always insisted that the future of Taiwan should be decided by its 23 million people,” she said. “What Scotland demonstrates could serve as an inspiration for deepening Taiwan’s democracy.”
On the other hand, TSU Policy Committee chairman Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信), who once lived in the UK, cited the result as an example and warned Taiwanese against the risk of economic over-dependence.
“More people voted against independence because Scotland depends deeply on the UK in banking, insurance, sea transportation and trade, making most Scots afraid of seceding from the UK,” Hsu Chung-hsin said. “Taiwan might face the same dilemma if it continues to deepen its economic dependence on China.”
He said that Scotland has been economically marginalized, since most of the UK’s industrial developments are concentrated in cities in England, such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester.
“The British government grants pensions totaling up to ￡1,400 [US$2,200] per year to each Scot,” he said. “The pensions would be canceled if Scotland becomes independent.”
“At the moment, 40 percent of exports from Taiwan go to China, while 80 percent of Taiwan’s overseas investments are in China. If we continue to push cross-strait economic integration, we will be further economically locked into China,” Hsu Chung-hsin said. “That would certainly have an impact on Taiwan’s political future and independence.”
Separately yesterday, when commenting on the referendum in Scotland, officials from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said they respected the outcome of the independence vote, while again making a distinction between the vote there and the situation across the Taiwan Strait.
“The Republic of China on Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation and the future of Taiwan can only be decided by its 23 million residents, rather than all Chinese, including those who live in mainland China,” Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said.
The significance of the referendum in Scotland is completely different from the case of a possible referendum on Taiwan’s independence, he told legislators.
The vote was held to decide whether Scotland, which has been a part of the UK, should become a separate country, Jiang said.
“This is not the same as the case we have here,” he said.
That about 55 percent of Scottish voters rejected independence means that the outcome would have a much smaller impact on Taiwan’s relationship with the UK and the EU than if the result had gone the other way, he added.