Sun, Nov 23, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Conference held in Taiwan to examine Tibetan affairs

INTERACTION Taiwan could offer an important platform for dialogue on Tibetan issues, according to the foreign and local experts attending the seminar

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

An exchange of ideas among academic experts on issues concerning Tibet could help Taiwan to improve its position in the international community.

According to the Ministry of the Interior's Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC), this is the goal of the two-day Symposium on Contemporary Tibetan Studies, which started in Taipei yesterday.

"Entering the 21st century, the MTAC has decided to accept the challenge of developing a different administrative policy with Mongolia and Tibet," Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄), chairman of the MTAC, said in his opening speech at the symposium.

"Using human rights, democracy, peace and respect for different ethnic groups as basis, we hope to be able to broaden our understanding of these two places, which might very well reinforce Taiwan's interactions with the rest of the world," Hsu said.

During the symposium, which concludes today, six local experts and 12 foreign academics will exchange views on various topics concerning Tibet.

Hsu said that Tibet has a rich culture, as well as a complicated history and political environment, which has engendered a variety of ideas and viewpoints in academic circles worldwide.

However, due to the ideological restrictions that had been imposed by the one-China principle, Taiwan has not been able to engage in many international academic dialogues regarding Tibet.

"Therefore, holding the first international symposium on contemporary Tibetan studies in Taiwan signifies an important breakthrough for the MTAC," Hsu said.

Presidential Secretary General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) agreed with Hsu, saying that Taiwan's transformation into a democratic and free society has opened it up to new ideas about Tibetan issues.

"Due to the hegemony of the one-China principle in the past, Taiwan had many misconceptions about Tibet and built up a wall against Tibet; our view of Tibet was obstructed by the Great-China belief," Chiou said.

"In 1950, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) ordered the Chinese military occupation of Tibet, which resulted in a mass exodus of Tibetan government personnel. After the Dalai Lama proposed his five points of peace in the US Congress in 1987, the world began to pay special attention to the Tibetan situation," Chiou said.

"By learning more about what is happening in Tibet, we should be able to understand Taiwan better. This would help us to reposition Taiwan better in the international community," Chiou said.

Hsu said that, due to the complicated and political nature of the Tibetan situation, heated debates are sometimes inevitable.

"However, as Taiwan is a nation that respects freedom and tolerates differences, we might offer an important platform for rational dialogues on Tibetan issues in the Chinese world. We expect this symposium will act as an example of how a sensible exchange of ideas should be conducted," Hsu said.

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