Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Democratic gains require protection

As a pillar of the nation's independence movement, senior presidential advisor Peng Ming-min is widely viewed as pioneer in Taiwan's democratic development. Peng recently sat down with `Taipei Times' reporter Huang Tai-lin and offered his insight into China's enactment of its `Anti-Secession' Law, the open letter by former Taiwan independence advocate and Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp founder Hsu Wen-lung praising the law, and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun's trip to China and the prospects of KMT Chairman Lien Chan's trip in the coming weeks


Senior presidential advisor Peng Ming-min.


Taipei Times: You have just recently returned from a trip to the US. Could you share with us your observations during your visit?

Peng Ming-min (彭明敏): The Taiwanese expatriates I met during my stay in the US all reacted very strongly in opposition to China's Anti-Secession Law.

Personally, I think the law runs counter to China's interests. The EU has in the past not taken too much interest in Taiwan, which is practically non-existent in its eyes. Despite opposition from the US, the EU has been contemplating the idea of lifting its arms embargo against China.

But as result of the Anti-Secession Law, the EU now is having second thoughts on the matter.

In addition, the law has also in some ways reminded European countries of the severity of Taiwan-China relations. Therefore, for China to enact this law was counterproductive.

Many overseas Taiwanese who are supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were disheartened by its poor performance in last year's legislative elections.

With China's introduction of the law, however, their emotions were inflamed by their abhorrence of the Chinese authority's manner and conduct.

Some people said the law gave China a legal basis to attack Taiwan, while some others noted that the law is part of China's move to challenge the US' Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

My view on China's passage of the law is somewhat different from that of others.

Personally, I think the law is meaningless. Beijing could attack Taiwan at any time without any legal basis.

Some said the law countered the TRA, but I think in essence they are two different matters. The TRA talks about preserving and enhancing the universal values of human rights and democracy in Taiwan, and self-determination is included as part of human rights.

Peng Ming-min

* Date of birth: Aug. 15, 1923.

* Place of birth: Kaohsiung.

* Education: Bachelor of Political Science from National Taiwan University; MA from McGill University's Institute of International Air Law, Canada; PhD in Law from University of Paris, France.

* Career: Senior Advisor to the president; Secretary-General of the Asia-Pacific Democracy Association; Professor of the Political Science Department at National Taiwan University (1957-1964); Presidential candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 1996 presidential election.

* Publications: Co-authored the ``The Manifesto to Save Taiwan;'' ``A Taste of Freedom;'' ``The Status of Taiwan Under International Law .''

* Notable events: Arrested in 1964 on charges of sedition by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime; escaped confinement in 1970 and was granted political asylum in Sweden. Returned to Taiwan in 1992 after spending 22 years in exile.

The Anti-Secession Law, however, talks about China's aim of deterring the conduct individuals or groups from seceding from what Beijing considers its territory.

In my view, I think the Anti-Secession Law may possibly be a response to Beijing's domestic problems.

As everyone knows, there are people within China's military who favor the immediate use of force against Taiwan.

I think maybe the law was a result of Beijing wishing to control and restrain radical voices within its military from embarking on hasty campaigns.

The law itself is a double-edged sword. It raises Taiwan's profile in the international community, and reminds the world that Taiwan is under threat.

No one can rebut Taiwan when it talks about democracy and freedom. In terms of this discourse, we are definitely on the forefront of confronting a hegemonic power like China.

TT: What would you suggest Taiwan do in light of what's happening?

Peng: This comes to the point where we say there is a tragedy of being Taiwanese -- there is no unity among the Taiwanese people. We had the mass demonstration in March 26, held against the Anti-Secession Law.

That was a big event which made clear for the international community Taiwan's opposition to the law.

But KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun's (江丙坤) China visit right after the demonstration sent the message to the world that Taiwanese are not as vehemently against the law as the march suggested. Taiwan's problems lie in the disunity of its people.

TT: Some people, while urging moves to combat the Anti-Secession Law, argued that the government should take the case to the International Court of Justice. In your view, is such option feasible?

This story has been viewed 4570 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top