Taiwan should vie to become the “Switzerland of Asia” as it pursues statehood recognition and the establishment of lasting peace across the Taiwan Strait, pro-independence activists said yesterday at a book launch in Taipei.
The activists made the remarks at the launch of a book on the subject written by Chen Hsiu-li (陳秀麗), who leads an alliance advocating for Taiwan to be recognized as a permanently neutral country.
The event was attended by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), long-term independence advocate Su Beng (史明) and former representative to Japan Lo Fu-chen (羅福全).
Lee sat in the audience for the duration of the three-hour event and although he did not deliver a speech, he did reveal to reporters on the sidelines of the event that he underwent surgery for skin cancer two weeks ago.
Pursuing peace and neutrality are the noblest things a country can do and should be Taiwan’s eventual goal, but that objective cannot be realized if Taiwan is not recognized as an independent country, Su said.
At the Taipei launch, the 96-year-old Su performed for the audience of more than 100 people, singing a song meant to encourage them to continue to fight for the nation’s independence.
Several famous vocalists, including Kuo Chin-fa (郭金發), a famous singer during the 1960s who sang in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), also performed at the event.
In addition to his signature song Hot Rice Dumpling (燒肉粽), Kuo sang Save the Earth (保護地球) in a bid to raise awareness for environmental protection.
Orchestra conductor Tseng Dau-hsiong (曾道雄) also attended the launch, where he emphasized the importance of culture and education in pushing for Taiwanese independence.
Tseng said he had once tried to write lyrics in textbooks saying: “Taiwan is a beautiful country,” but had not been allowed to do so.
“This happened even during the former Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] administration,” he said.
Former minister of defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲), who introduced the policy of neutralizing the Taiwan Strait while in office, said Taiwan needs to raise its defense budget significantly if it is to pursue the goal of becoming a neutral country.
Taiwan’s defense budget is about 30 percent of the Swiss government’s budget, while Singapore, which like Switzerland adopts a neutralist policy in diplomacy, allots 25 to 30 percent of its national budget to defense expenditures, Tsai said.
Rex Wang (王世榕), who served as the nation’s representative to Switzerland under the DPP administration, said that Taiwan becoming a neutral country is feasible, but that achieving this status “depends on whether we are determined to pursue that goal.”