Sun, Apr 29, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Time for a ‘fresh start’ on Taiwan: British politician

WINDS OF CHANGE?Lord Faulkner asked why, if Australia grants Taiwanese diplomats nearly the same benefits as other diplomatic missions, Britain could not do the same

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

It’s time for Britain to change its “one China” policy for the same reason it resists the territorial claims of Argentina to the Falkland Islands — self-determination — Lord Faulkner of Worcester, a member of British House of Lords since 1999, said in an article published on Friday.

Faulkner, who is the co-chair of the British-Taiwanese all-party parliamentary group, also called on other EU states and the US to challenge the “one-China” policy, which “has unfairly held back the Taiwanese people from establishing normal friendly relations with the rest of the world.”

His contention in the article, “Time for a fresh start with Taiwan,” published by the Diplomat, drew partly on the rationale that Britain has used to reject Argentina’s allegations of “colonialism” over the Falklands Islands.

If it is right for Britain to resist the territorial claims of Argentina to the Falkland Islands on the grounds that the inhabitants of the islands wish to remain British, why is it wrong to support the people of Taiwan if they don’t wish to be ruled by China, he said.

Faulkner said that the UK should develop a policy toward Taiwan based on the report on East Asia drafted by the House of Commons foreign affairs committee in 2006, which concluded that Chinese military build-up across the Taiwan Strait threatens peace and stability in East Asia.

The report also said that the growth of democracy in Taiwan is of the greatest importance, both for the nation itself and the people of Greater China, because it demonstrates incontrovertibly that Chinese are able to develop democratic institutions and thrive under them.

Faulkner said he disapproved of the report on the EU’s relations with China produced by the House of Lords’ select committee on the EU in 2010, which said: “China will not accept any questioning of its territorial integrity whether over Tibet, Hong Kong or Taiwan. It is the Taiwan issue that presents a threat to regional security.”

Such a proposition was “absurd,” he said, adding that “the tone of the House of Lords report seems to say that we must do nothing to promote relations with Taiwan that upsets China.”

“My question is why should the People’s Republic of China be given a veto on deciding in which international organizations Taiwan should participate?” he said.

Faulkner said he would bring the issue to the attention of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office after recently learning that Australia grants Taiwanese diplomats virtually all the same benefits as other diplomatic missions stationed in the country.

The simple message was this: “If Australia can do it, why can’t we?” he said.

Faulkner said the UK and a majority of nations in the UN needed to change the thinking that had led them to not recognize Taiwan.

Twenty years have passed since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) last claimed it was the -legitimate government of the whole of China, while the Peoples’ Republic of China has never of course been the government of Taiwan, he said.

“Over the course of its history, Taiwan has been sustained by the indomitable spirit of its people, who have built together a cosmopolitan, democratic and open society,” he said. “They deserve better of us. It’s time for a fresh start.”

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