Church urges push for independence

‘EMBRACE LOVE’::Taiwan should consider developing mechanisms of a ‘defensive democracy’ to protect its freedom in the face of Chinese threats, the church said

By Lu Yi-hsuan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Dec 18, 2018 - Page 3

The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan yesterday urged the government to make moves toward formal independence to safeguard the nation’s freedom and democracy against Chinese infiltration.

“We must adopt a Taiwan-centric way of thinking and remain united as Beijing attempts to infiltrate and divide us in all kinds of ways,” the church said in a statement read by its general secretary Lyim Hong-tiong (林芳仲) at a news conference.

Now is a critical time for Taiwanese to forge ahead and work toward joining the international community, the statement said.

“We must continue to try and join international organizations in the name of ‘Taiwan,’” the church said.

The church urged Taiwanese to “leave all bias behind, and instead embrace love and tolerance to help Taiwan overcome threats and isolation from China, and move toward becoming a new and independent nation.”

The Nov. 24 elections saw China attempting to “manipulate Taiwan’s democracy” by taking advantage of its democratic system, it said.

Taiwanese should consider developing mechanisms of a so-called “defensive democracy” to better protect their freedom and democracy, the church said.

To prevent fake news from being circulated, everyone should learn to judge the authenticity of news and not disseminate untrue information, it said.

The media in particular should adhere to professional ethics and fact-check news stories before publishing them, it added.

The church in 1977 issued a human rights declaration calling on the government to “make Taiwan a new and independent nation,” church moderator Hsieh Po-tsan (薛伯讚) told the news conference.

Forty-one years after the declaration, Taiwan has become a democracy with its own armed forces, territory and a president directly elected by the public, he said.

The church has decided to issue the new statement out of concern over China’s incessant threats to Taiwan’s democracy, he said.

Authoritarian rulers who wish to avoid democratization often attack democracies by using their openness and vulnerability, Lyim said.

Taiwan’s democracy has become a target for Beijing because it poses a threat to its authoritarianism, he said, adding that the nation should improve mechanisms of defensive democracy through legislation, he said, as the US, Japan and Australia had done.

The Chinese government has been using Taiwan’s democratic values to “destroy our democratic diversity and freedom of speech,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said.

Considering the events in Crimea and southern Vietnam, and given that Taiwan’s democracy is under far more serious pressure than the US or European nations, building more defensive mechanisms is worth considering, he said.