Rejecting the term “Taiwan” as the nation’s name, former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村) said yesterday that Taiwan is not an independent, sovereign nation and that unification between Taiwan and China would eventually happen.
The assertions “Taiwan is already an independent country named the Republic of China (ROC)” and “the ROC is Taiwan” are both forms of “self-depreciation,” Hau said when addressing a forum organized by the government-funded Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD).
Hau said this kind of rhetoric was a “politically motivated tactic” aimed at “fooling voters.”
“They represented a step backward for democracy and have become major obstacles to the quality of the nation’s democracy,” he said.
“Former US secretary of state Colin Powell had made it clear [when he was] in China that Taiwan is not an independent, sovereign country,” Hsu said.
However, no one in the world would say that the ROC is not a sovereign country, he added.
Hau was referring to a statement made by Powell during an interview with Phoenix TV on Oct. 25, 2004, in Beijing saying that “Our [the US’] policy is clear. There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy.”
The state department later explained that Powell had misspoken and said that there had been no change in US policy toward Taiwan.
Hau was the fourth speaker invited to address the “Witness Taiwan Democracy” series forum, following former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).
In his speech, the 95-year-old Hau expressed his wish that leaders of younger generations will devote themselves to improving the quality of democracy in Taiwan, saying that democracy gives Taiwan an advantage over China to advance the peace process with China and to bring about cross-strait unification.
“There is no democratic country in the world that has two different democratic systems. When people of both sides of the Strait have a consensus on their political system, unification will come to fruition naturally,” he said.
When China stopped shelling Kinmen in 1979, the tragedy of war among Chinese people was brought to an end, while the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987 marked the end of an era when “political power came from the barrel of a gun,” Hau said.
When political power does not come from the barrel of a gun and a consensus on a political system is reached among people on both sides of the Strait, “we will certainly attain unification,” Hau said.
Taiwan could have become a base for fostering democracy in China, but the division among Taiwanese on the issue of national identity has impeded Taiwan’s democratic development, Hau said.
In response to his speech, Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien (王建煊), who also attended the forum, said he has been thinking about the state of Taiwan’s democracy.
When Taiwan was ruled by former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), democracy did not thrive as it does now, but the country achieved an economic miracle, Wang said.
In the following 25 years, since the nation’s leaders were selected by the public, the country “has been living off its last reserves” and no one knows whether the worst is yet to come, Wang said.
Wang said he did not mean that people lived a better life under the rule of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo than they did now.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin once asked a soldier how the October Revolution has changed his life and the soldier replied that he used to have two suits of clothes and then he had just one, Wang said.
“Will there be a day in the future when we [Taiwanese] won’t even have a full suit of clothes but just a pair of pants left?” Wang said.