Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Build state identity: conference

TALKSAt a forum on cross-strait issues, experts and academics said that Taiwan must show the global community it holds a separate public consciousness from China

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui, right, shakes hands with an attendant on the first day of the two-day "Cross Strait Exchanges and National Security fo Taiwan" conference in Taipei's Grand Hotel yesterday. The conference is organized by Taiwan Advocates, a think tank of which Lee is chairman.


Cross-strait relations experts and government officials yesterday agreed that Taiwanese people must reinforce their state identity to allow for the establishment of a new constitution and change of the national title required to push for the country's legally independent status.

At the international conference of "Cross Strait Exchanges and National Security of Taiwan" held in Taipei by Taiwan Advocates, a think tank founded by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), local academics and government officials yesterday expressed views that Taiwanese people must build an independent country with a separate identity from China.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) yesterday speaking at a panel session of the conference discussing Taiwan's sovereignty said that Taiwan is a country with independent sovereignty. He said, however, that its establishment as a complete state was not yet successful.

To that end, Lin said that the people's state identity awareness should be reinforced to enact a series of systematic changes needed for a transformation from the current de facto independence to de jure independence.

"The systematic change includes changes to the country's internal political structure ranging from writing a new constitution, changing the nation's name from Republic of China [ROC] to Taiwan, and introducing more Taiwan-centric education material in schools," Lin said.

In addition to these systematic changes, Lin said, acquiring international recognition is also very important to ensure Taiwan's independent status.

Another panelist Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a professor at the Department of Public Administration of Tamkang University yesterday said currently the most serious challenge Taiwan faces was whether Taiwan could maintain its independence to counter China's threats to annihilate it.

Shih said that although the government's democratization in the past decade has allowed for the country's substantive independence, Taiwan is still not legally independent given the existence of the ROC, which prevents Taiwan from gaining a sovereign state status in the international society.

To cast off the ROC image, Shih said that Taiwan should undergo more systematic reforms to build a complete state such as the construction of a new constitution and the change of the national name.

Senior Advisor to the President Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), who presided over yesterday's panel session, said the next presidential election signifies a choice by the people of Taiwan between a new country and an old regime.

Peng said he disagreed with the pan-blue alliance's presidential candidate Lien Chan's (連戰) remarks that the March presidential election was a battle to safeguard the legitimacy of the ROC.

Peng said, "The next presidential election is not a question of whether to destroy the ROC, rather it's about what the people want for their future -- a country of their own or the continuation of an old power."

"It's not just about choosing a new president, it's about choosing a country," Peng said.

Secretary General of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Shi Hwei-yow (許惠祐), yesterday said the various formulas stipulating cross-strait relations proposed by the current and former administrations have resulted in the confusion of people's state identities and consequently led to inappropriate policy-making and legislation.

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