Taipei Times: Since your inauguration as Taiwan's representative to Germany on May 5, you've done some things your predecessors never did, like attending public events with Tibetans and Falungong members. Why is that?
Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉): First of all, I have to stress that the difficult process for Taiwan in transforming itself into a democratic country has shaped the thinking of my generation. My concern for human rights goes far beyond political issues. In early June, I took part in a panel discussion held by the Epoch Times, which is closely associated with the Falungong movement and fights for their religious freedoms, particularly in light of the recent anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
When the Dalai Lama came to Berlin in June to give awards to long-time supporters of the Tibetan people, including former Czech president Vaclav Havel, I was invited to the ceremony. I took the opportunity to show my support to victims suppressed by illegitimate governments. My opinion could be said to be representative of the Taiwanese people's notion of right and wrong. Why should I avoid attending with public events?
TT: Is your personal attitude linked to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) ideas on diplomatic strategy?
Shieh: The diplomatic strategies adopted by the Taiwanese government -- and by extension the DPP -- are not based on the notion that conservatism is best. It's not about merely defending Taiwan's right to participate in the international community. Since we are discontent with the unfair treatment we receive in the global arena -- the result of China's unreasonable and hostile attitude -- we have to fight for justice.
For example, Taiwan's old-fashioned, conservative diplomatic policy sought to avoid the appearance of the name "Taiwan" in public. The name of Taiwan's office here in Berlin is the "Taipei Representative Office in Germany." Some German politicians said to me, "we don't forbid you calling yourself Taiwan." This shows that even though everyone can call us "Taiwan," we cannot call ourselves Taiwan. Taiwanese people's feelings about being wrongly treated must be brought to light. Their opposition to the so-called "one China policy" must be made known in the international community.
TT: In addition to China's refusal that the name "Taiwan" be used in the global political arena, can you give other examples of how Taiwan has been unfairly treated?
Shieh: Yes. Germany has unfairly treated Taiwan's top political leaders -- the president, vice president, premier, foreign affairs minister and minister of national defense are forbidden from entering Germany. Why are they on a "no admittance" blacklist? Are they criminals?
Of course we cannot expect other countries to focus on certain issues as intensely as Taiwan does. However, if you ask me why I challenge certain unreasonable policies toward Taiwan, which are basically products of a specific nation's adherence to the "one China" principle, it's because Taiwan really has nothing to lose and everything to gain. We have been victimized by unjust policies for decades. So our requests for justice now are not unreasonable or made out of the blue.
Don't forget that German history is rife with periods of discontent among a widespread portion of the society. Martin Luther once said, "Here I stand. I have no alternative. God helps me. Amen." I'm sort of in a similar situation, in that I have to fight for justice on Taiwan's behalf and say what I believe.