A study advocating an internationally monitored plebiscite to decide the political future of Taiwan appeared this week on an Oxford University Web site.
“Unlike in bygone eras, international law no longer conceives of territories as mere pieces of property to be traded or conquered,” the study says.
Written by New York Law School professor Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志), the study says that human beings “are properly held to be at the center of international law.”
The study comes as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) prepares for talks next week with Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平).
The idea of a plebiscite to decide the future of Taiwan is anathema to Beijing and a development that could lead to a military attack.
However, Chen argues that Taiwanese have the right to determine their own future.
“The inhabitants of a disputed territory, through collective effort, can develop their distinctive political, economic, social and cultural system,” he said. “This is effective self-determination — self-determination in action. When the international legal status of a territory is in dispute, an internationally monitored plebiscite provides the ideal means of resolving the dispute peacefully.”
Chen’s study appeared under the international law section of the University of Oxford Press Web site.
Asked to comment on the Xi-Chu meeting, the US Department of State said last week that the US encourages Taiwan and China to continue their dialogue.
“We encourage authorities in Beijing and Taipei to continue their constructive dialogue, which has led to significant improvements in the cross-strait relationship,” a spokesperson said.
Polls show that a majority of Taiwanese prefer independence to unification with China.
In the past, the US Department of State has discouraged the idea of a plebiscite for fear that it might trigger Chinese military action.
“In a world of increasing globalization and interdependence, we see a gradual expansion in identifications — more and more, members of the world community identify with the most inclusive community of humankind and a deepening perception of shared humanity,” the study says. “Genuine protection and fulfillment of human dignity values... will be possible only when individuals are enabled to be effective, active, equal participants at different community levels and in different social settings.”
It says that the past 30 years have witnessed a profound and persistent movement of democratization — and Taiwanization — that runs counter to China’s “unfounded claims over the island.”
“Under present conditions, Taiwan’s statehood is best understood in the context of an ongoing process of evolution propelled by the desire and action of the Taiwanese people for self-determination and democracy,” the study says.
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