Thu, Mar 25, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Harvesting diplomatic solutions was Wei Yung's way

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

A pathfinder seeking recognition for an internationally isolated Taiwan, Wei Yung (魏鏞), former chairman of the Cabinet's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (RDEC), died on March 3. He was 68.

In 1975, Wei became the first non-US citizen to be appointed National Fellow at the prestigious Hoover Institution in Stanford University.

The next year, he published his "multi-system nations" and "dual recognition" theories, which triggered widespread debate and had a definitive impact on the Republic of China's (ROC) foreign and cross-strait policies.

The influence of Wei's "multi-system nations" theory arguably reached even the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), who advanced the "one country, two systems" formula for China to unify with Taiwan in 1981.

In his paper Recognition of Divided States, published in 2000, Wei pointed out how the Beijing authorities subtly altered his original "multi-system nations" concept.

He wrote: "They have borrowed the idea but have skillfully adjusted the content of `multi-system nations' to suit their own political framework and purposes, i.e., the two systems in the `One Country Two Systems' scheme were merely socio-economic institutions without international personalities."

Wei obtained his PhD in political science from the University of Oregon and taught in the US for many years. He returned to Taiwan on the invitation of President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) to serve in the government in 1975.

Described by his long-time secretary Joanne Liu (劉淑瓊) as a disciplined official and academic with "inexplicable patriotism," Wei once had a heated debate with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴), then the vice foreign minister, about the practicality of "dual recognition" in 1988.

The purpose of Wei's "dual recognition" theory was to create space for countries to build official ties with the ROC and the People's Republic of China (PRC), said Liu, now an assistant professor at National Taiwan University's Department of Social Work.

The unification-minded Wei had strived to produce a theory for the international community to accept the ROC and the PRC as two political entities by inventing new concepts in international law, Liu said.

For Wei, Taiwan's unification with China was a matter for the future. What he cared about the most, however, was how Taiwan might break out of its isolation in the international community.

Wei's most sought-after goal was for the international community to finally recognize Taiwan, Liu said.

Wei served as RDEC chairman for 12 years and was a KMT legislator from 1993 to 1996. However, an unsubstantiated accusation by opponents that he had been peeping in the legislature's women's toilets irrevocably damaged his image and virtually ended his political career.

Wei's attempt to seek a second legislative term faltered because of the scandal. People close to Wei, however, were shocked by the rumor and said it was "completely unimaginable" that the stoic official would do such a thing.

During his decades-long service in government, Wei had a reputation for his strict attitude towards subordinates. But his honest style also earned respect.

"Wei was not good at socializing with reporters. He never gave gifts or leaked information to them in order to maintain good relationships with them," Liu said.

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