Sat, Feb 04, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Independence stalwart shares his views

Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen, who is a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman and a pioneer of Taiwan's independence movement, shared his views on the current difficulties that the DPP is experiencing in taking the independence campaign to the next stage in an exclusive interview with 'Taipei Times' staff reporter Jewel Huang

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Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen, left, speaks at a book launch in Changhua County last month. He is accompanied by his wife, National Policy Adviser Chou Ching-yu.

PHOTO: WU WEI-GUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: Since the success of the Feb. 28, 2004 hand-in-hand rally that championed Taiwan's sovereignty and rejected China's missile threat, the Taiwan independence movement seems to have been unable to move forward. Do you think the movement has suffered any setbacks?

Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文): I don't think that Taiwan's independence movement has been thwarted or experienced any setbacks. On the contrary, I think it has made many successful achievements in a sense. If you look back at the history of the Taiwan independence movement, it can be divided into three general stages.

The first stage was before 1971, a period during which we focused on advocating Taiwan's separation from China because the government ruled by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) claimed it was a regime that represented China, with the official name of the Republic of China (ROC) only. Therefore, many independence campaigners overseas at that time argued that Taiwan should separate from China and announce its independence.

The second stage was from 1971 to 1986, the year that the DPP was founded. During this period, the Kaohsiung Incident (美麗島事件) occurred in 1979, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) passed away and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) succeeded him. What we worked on during this period was trying to rid Taiwan of the color of China or China's influence and trying to change Taiwan from a "Chinese nationality" into a "Taiwanese nationality." In practical ways, we facilitated full-scale elections for the legislature and promoted the direct election of the president.

The third stage of the Taiwan independence movement started in 1986 and is still ongoing. We are now in the latter period of the third stage. What we [the DPP] have tried to highlight and restate during this period is that Taiwan enjoys independent sovereignty. In that regard, we proposed a Constitution for the Republic of Taiwan in 1990. And then Lee announced the abolition of the "Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion" (動員戡亂條款) and enabled people to vote directly for the president and vice president.

With the subsequent chain of democratic reforms, Taiwan has confirmed the fact that its territory covers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. Since then, the DPP has stopped championing separation and moved to highlighting Taiwan's status quo, which indicates that Taiwan is an independent sovereign state with a democratic system.

After that, Lee proposed his "special state-to-state" theory (兩國論) in 1999 and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) declared "one country on either side" (一邊一國) in 2002. The campaign for changing Taiwan's official name and writing a constitution naturally follows. I believe that few people in Taiwan would recognize that Taiwan represents the Chinese government or argue that the Taiwanese government has sovereignty over China. Therefore, I think the Taiwan independence movement has been quite successful up to now.

What independence campaigners are doing now is to promote something that will enable Taiwan to become a state that has a name and constitution matching the present reality and its people's needs. I think the Taiwan independence movement moves forward slowly but you can't say it has been dealt any setbacks.

However, we do face some difficulties in revising the Constitution and promoting the name-change movement because the opposition parties control the legislature. Besides, I think the DPP has not disseminated enough information regarding the independence movement. But that's another issue.

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