Taiwan has a very important decision to make in the upcoming presidential election. One party stands for protecting the integrity of Taiwanese self-rule, the other two main parties who stand a chance at winning both cater to China and, if elected, would risk locking Taiwan into a position of being annexed by China against the will of a vast majority of the population.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, and the KMT all need a history lesson. Taiwan was never ceded to the Republic of China (ROC). The only treaty regulating the status of Taiwan is the Treaty of San Francisco of 1951. It was ratified in 1952, before the Treaty of Taipei, and thus the Treaty of Taipei only concerns territory not covered in the Treaty of San Francisco. The ROC was tasked with the administration of Taiwan and other named islands, but not the sovereignty.
After Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his government fled to Taiwan, they established a government in exile. The KMT and others continue to argue the Cairo and Potsdam declarations as evidence that the act of ceding Taiwan should be interpreted as being ceded to the ROC. These declarations are not evidence to that end. Neither are they treaties.
They can be seen as declarations of intention and whether the intention was genuine or an attempt at appeasing an obstructionist and uncooperative Chiang matters little, as any intention along that path was immediately reversed once China invaded Korea.
Has Taiwan ever belonged to China? What is and what was China? Is British India the same as India after independence? Of course not, and neither is China. The Manchu empire, which among several other nations held some Taiwanese territory, was overthrown in 1911. By then it had ceded the territory it held on Taiwan to Japan.
China, whether it is the ROC or the People’s Republic of China (PRC), has no legitimate claim to Taiwan.
Something did change Taiwan. It was the transition to democracy. When Taiwanese were finally able to chose their own government through general elections, it bestowed legality upon the government. It is Taiwanese who decide their future and it is clear that they do not want to be made part of China.
January’s election might be the last time Taiwan has a choice.
With the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and the KMT hogging attention for the past few months with their debate about which party should be on top in their marital bed, maybe the election can finally be about politics. Was it all about squandering time or is the intention of the TPP and the KMT to form some sort of alliance?
The 3 percent margin of error they are quibbling over in the polls to decide who should lead a proposed alliance ticket should have been easily resolved.
One possibility is that TPP Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is buying time by evading pressure from the KMT and/or China to form a coalition.
The public display of tears could be a result of that pressure. It would make it more understandable, albeit non-transparent.
Either way it is politics with Chinese characteristics — foul and lacking any tangible logic.
As a large majority of Taiwanese do not want to be absorbed by China, how can part of that majority still vote for the very parties that would lead Taiwan into that abyss?
In some countries, parties like the KMT, which supervised the disappearance and murder of people it claimed to represent, have been banned.
Transparency should be the first requirement of any presidential candidate.
For Taiwanese who do not wish to be part of the PRC, yet vote for parties that support the so called “1992 consensus,” and who cannot or will not see what “one country, two systems” has done to Hong Kong, consider this: With a youth unemployment rate exceeding 20 percent in China, what kind of business opportunities do you expect from cross-strait trade?
If Ma’s KMT had been able to ratify the cross-strait service trade agreement, how would that have affected the Taiwanese job market, which has an overall unemployment rate of 3.5 percent and a youth unemployment rate of less than half that of China’s?
If Taiwan chooses to become part of China by electing a president and parties that could make it inevitable, the same exodus of foreign investment, business and talent that is occurring in China and Hong Kong will also happen in Taiwan.
Guard your freedom if it is valuable to you.
Jan Nilsson is a business manager in Singapore.
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