In analyzing the Chinese military’s four days of live-fire exercises around Taiwan proper, talking heads on Taiwanese political television programs expended a great deal of time explaining why the Ministry of National Defense did not issue an air-defense warning when China’s military fired ballistic missiles into outer space above Taiwan.
However, the significance of the missile launches is not how high they flew, but the intent behind their use and where they landed.
China claimed that the missiles had “accurately hit their targets,” which included impact points near Taiwan’s vital ports. This demonstrates that Beijing possesses the intent and the capability to implement a blockade of Taiwan.
It is insufficient for the government to issue a strong protest against China’s behavior. The nation’s diplomatic corps must rally the international community and make the case for an international convention on Taiwan.
Taiwanese must also unite, and with one voice demand that Beijing cease engaging in hostile military behavior. Taiwanese must also call on the international community to pay closer attention to the nation’s security needs, by making the argument that Taiwan’s continued existence as a free nation is vital to upholding international law and world peace.
If the world does not take immediate action to constrain China’s bellicose and destructive behavior, recent history tells us what will happen next. When the international community failed to prevent Nazi Germany from invading neighboring nations during the mid-1930s, the seeds of World War II were sown and it was not long before the human race was once again afflicted with a great calamity.
Ministry of National Defense spokespersons, think tanks and even pan-green-camp-aligned talking heads on television frequently refer to China’s military as the “communist forces” (共軍) and China, the country, as the “Chinese communists” (中共). This shows that many in Taiwan are in a state of cognitive confusion over Taiwan’s status and the nature of the regime on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.
This is the language of a bygone era, when Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) nationalist forces were fighting an armed rebellion of “communist bandits” in China during the Chinese Civil War.
If Taiwanese wish to amend the nation’s official name, they should start by rectifying how they refer to China’s military. There is no such entity as the “communist forces” — the rest of the world calls that institution by its official name: the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Similarly, they should refer to China by its official name: the People’s Republic of China.
If Taiwanese do not refer to China by its proper name, they will never be able to obtain the right to the name of their own country and the cognitive confusion would continue.
When Beijing says that “there is only one China in the world and its name is the ‘People’s Republic of China,’” it is not wrong. By the same logic, there is only one Taiwan in the world and its 36,000km2 of sovereign territory belongs to 23 million Taiwanese and nobody else.
Taiwanese must start by rectifying how they refer to China, then amend the Republic of China Constitution, rectify the nation’s official name and put clear blue water between Taiwan and China. These are vital steps necessary for Taiwanese to uphold the country’s sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity and national security.
Yao Meng-chang is an assistant professor in Fujen Catholic University’s Department of Postgraduate Legal Studies.
Translated by Edward Jones
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