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Tsai rejects independence criticism

Pigeon-holes: The DPP chairwoman lashed out at the Presidential Office for labeling other people instead of clearly answering her question on the so-called ‘1992 consensus’

By Ko Shu-ling
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008, Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, standing, meets the elected heads of local chapters at the DPP headquarters in Taipei.


Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday hit back at the Presidential Office for painting and criticizing her as an independence fundamentalist.

Tsai said that the Presidential Office overly simplified her remarks in an interview, which appeared in three Chinese-language newspapers yesterday, and that she had just asked President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a few questions.

“I just asked a few questions and I would like to see him answer them,” she said. “It is not a good idea to stick a label on other people.”

In the interviews, Tsai criticized Ma for failing to mention in his inaugural address that Taiwan’s 23 million people have the final say on the nation’s future.

In response, an official at the Presidential Office said there was no need to mention it because it is a fact that Taiwanese have a say on the country’s future because they can elect legislators and presidents.

She also criticized the Ma administration for retreating on the issue of sovereignty. She said she would like to know why the administration wanted to resume cross-strait negotiations based on the so-called “1992 consensus,” without clarifying what the consensus refers to.

Tsai said the administration has now chosen to keep mum on the KMT’s previous contention that the so-called consensus refers to “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”

Tsai said that the Ma government’s plan to apply for WHO membership under the name “Chinese Taipei” without undertaking political negotiations was unacceptable and a step backward.

The Presidential Office retorted by saying that the officials documents of the WTO refer to the country as “Chinese Taipei” and the country did not gain accession to the international body until 2002 when Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was president.

Tsai said yesterday that the details of the WTO application were decided by the then-KMT administration and the DPP administration was not responsible for them.

Tsai also met the heads of local chapters of the DPP in Taipei yesterday. After listening to their opinions, Tsai instructed the party’s Department of Organizational Development to conduct a census of party members as part of its efforts to reform the party following its defeat in the legislative and presidential elections earlier this year.

Tsai called for unity at the party meet yesterday, saying the party was just starting its uphill climb to initiate changes.

Charter bosses attending the meeting reached a consensus that party members should refrain from attacking each other.

In other news, the DPP’s Party Reform Task Force held its first meeting yesterday and decided to propose a reform package on June 18 so it can be ready for debate at the party’s National Congress on July 20.

DPP Secretary-General Wang Tuoh (王拓), who also serves as the convener of the task force, said the nine-member group would discuss three main issues: revision of the party platform, discipline and evaluation and nomination process.

Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), a member of the task force, said that with Tsai as the party’s new leader, the priorities are to reshape the image of the party and to settle the nomination for next year’s local chief elections as soon as possible.




Visitors look at a skeleton of a mammoth yesterday at an exhibition running through July 5 at the Chiayi Municipal Museum.






Taiwan and the WHO

I fully agree with Andy Knight’s argument that the global epidemic prevention network is not complete without the inclusion of Taiwan in the WHO (“Taiwan Should Gain WHO Status,” May 19, page 8). Justice and basic human health rights to which all human beings are entitled are not served to the 23 million Taiwanese people if Taiwan is left outside the WHO network.

China once again blocked Taiwan’s application to sit as an observer at the World Health Assembly meeting on May 19. This is the 12th time China has ignored the well-being of Taiwanese.

Beijing’s argument that China has provided and would provide protection to Taiwanese during an outbreak of communicable disease is highly suspect, as no such assistance has ever been rendered to Taiwan by China.

Beijing has even had serious difficulty preventing and controlling outbreaks of diseases originating inside China.

Despite the numerous times Taiwanese have provided aid to Chinese following natural or man-made disasters, Beijing has never shown any mercy toward Taiwanese.

For example, for the May 12 earthquake in China, Taiwanese have already donated more than US$150 million, with the Taiwanese Government quickly dispatching rescue personnel and equipment to China.

Despite the ongoing goodwill shown by Taiwanese and the Taiwanese Government, China has not shown any appreciation and continues to block Taiwan’s applications for WHO membership.

For the sake of global health protection and safety, the WHO should not allow China to dictate its policies and leave the gap in the global epidemic protection network unclosed.

Jong Huang
Edmonton, Alberta



Nobel Prize vs sovereignty

Charles Kao (高希均) told a Singapore newspaper that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) might have a chance of winning a Nobel Peace Prize around 2011 (“‘CommonWealth’ founder sees Nobel in Ma’s future,” May 31, page 3). If Kao’s prediction were correct, the cost to Taiwan would be high and the sad precedent set by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to then-US national security adviser Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho in 1973 would risk being repeated.

Despite the prize, given to Kissinger and Le for their role in the so-called Paris Peace Accords, fighting in Vietnam actually did not stop until the war ended in 1975. Worst of all, South Vietnam was taken over by the North Vietnamese and has been under communist rule ever since.

If Ma won a Nobel Prize for superficial peace, most likely Taiwan would ultimately be annexed by China and Taiwanese would find themselves under Chinese communist control.

Kissinger betrayed not only South Vietnam but also Taiwan. It was Kissinger who helped implement the “one China” policy that has haunted Taiwan since the early 1970s. Even today, Kissinger continues to justify “the territorial integrity of a united China” (“Kissinger: PRC apologist to the end,” May 3, Page 8). Kissinger should review the 1895 Shimonoseki Treaty between Japan and China and the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty between the US, Japan and 46 other countries. Taiwan is not part of China by any means or measures and his continued stance on the matter is regrettable in its failure to accept reality.

Ma, as president of Taiwan, should not follow in Kissinger’s steps in betrayal of Taiwan. The Nobel Prize is a great honor, but it will be not be worth a penny if it is won at the price of the sovereignty of Taiwan, democracy and freedom.

Charles Hong
Columbus, Ohio



How China could erode Taiwanese democracy

By Lai I-chung 賴怡忠
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008, Page 8

Beijing’s warm reception of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) during his visit to China to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) was an attempt to use the KMT-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) platform to relieve pressure on the KMT for government-to-government dialogue and marginalize Taiwan’s democratic supervisory mechanisms. Furthermore, the Chinese government has sought to weaken the Taiwanese government’s ability to control cross-strait policy by winning over various KMT heavyweights individually.

From Beijing’s red-carpet treatment of former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) during his previous visits, to the resumption of Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung’s (江丙坤) delayed visit to China, to the premise that no promises would be made as to when talks between the SEF and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) would resume, two conclusions can be reached.

First, it shows that China will not accept all of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) requests and has established a model for future cross-strait negotiation: Start with a KMT-CCP platform, launch talks between SEF and ARATS and finally pass resolutions in the KMT-dominated legislature.

This model is very similar to how the CCP manages to pass bills that require the co-operation of other parties: Suggestions are made in the Political Consultative Conference (PCC) and endorsed by the CCP, whereupon the National People’s Congress officially announces them. Similarly, suggestions will be made in the KMT-CCP forum, the SEF and ARATS will engage in consultations, and finally the KMT-controlled legislature will pass the resolutions. Such similarity is turning the KMT into mere political consultants.

This model will have a strong impact on Taiwan’s democracy. Not only will the opposition parties struggle in the legislature without having any influence on the process, the public will also have no chance to understand the process through legislative proceedings, because everything has already been decided in the opaque KMT-CCP forum and its legitimacy will only stem from the dominance of the KMT.

Just because the KMT and CCP discuss economic and trade issues today doesn’t mean they will not turn to political issues tomorrow. Given the lack of transparency, the public will have no way of knowing what kind of sacrifices the KMT will be making in return for more international space.

If nothing is done, our sovereignty and democracy will be in grave danger.

Lai I-chung is an executive committee member of Taiwan Thinktank.



We’re all Chinese, but two states are possible

By Ning Yin-bin 甯應斌
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008, Page 8

Recently, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) rhetoric promoting cross-strait reconciliation has gradually shifted from “one China, different interpretations” to “the Chinese people,” perhaps in the hope of eventually settling upon a framework for a “Greater China.” This new challenge for the pan-green camp, which insists on Taiwanese independence, should perhaps lead them to consider the possibility of a three-way win-win situation through “Chinese Taiwanese independence.”

The term “the Chinese people” has two meanings and different interpretations. One meaning is the strict academic definition, as in the Schicksalgemeinschaft, or “community of fate,” which gradually developed from the end of the 19th to the 20th century. It is also the modern nation-state shaped by the state apparatuses of the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

For its part, nationalism is an ideology that advocates one nation, one state.

Yet, “the Chinese people” also has a colloquial meaning, as in the so-called huaren (華人), which roughly translates to “ethnic Chinese” and has implications for culture, locale and blood-ties, although not those of political states. The term huaren is also commonly interchangeable with zhongguoren (中國人), or simply “the Chinese.”

However, the pan-green camp has rejected the term “Chinese” and claims that Taiwanese are not Chinese, for the apparent reason that Taiwanese are not citizens of the PRC. In other words, this makes no distinction between the Chinese people and Chinese nationals. The deeper reason is related to the trend of de-Sinicization in Asian countries surrounding China.

Should it ever come to this, a successful move to Taiwanese independence would be contingent on a war supported by Japan and the US, as well as a shared hatred for the enemy. However, the price would be internal division, as the popularity of independence relies upon regarding the Chinese on the other side of the Taiwan Strait as the enemy.

For the politics of hatred to maintain its energy in daily life, an external enemy needs to be transformed into an internal enemy, so that a target of hatred — the enemy, or the Chinese — must be sought within Taiwan itself. In such a scenario, Taiwan would become a battleground between the pan-blue and pan-green camps, or Chinese and Taiwanese.

An era of cross-strait reconciliation may be upon us. The future of Taiwanese independence, however, cannot be based on the hope that cross-strait animosity will return; simultaneously, Beijing will not abandon its goal of annexation.

The future of Taiwanese independence therefore rests on reconciliation with the pan-blue constituency and the backing of Chinese nationals. This implies that the pan-green camp should reconsider the new route of “Chinese Taiwanese independence.”

This “Chinese Taiwanese independence” comes down to former senior presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming’s (辜寬敏) statement that China and Taiwan are brotherly states, but rather than waiting until Taiwanese independence has been achieved to transform China from an enemy into a brother, the two countries should now start to see each other as family and recognize that Taiwanese are also huaren, zhongguoren and part of “the Chinese people.”

This could reduce the antagonism and lack of understanding harbored by Chinese nationals against Taiwanese independence and substitute hatred with love for our fellow nationals.

Furthermore, although “Chinese Taiwanese independence” insists on “eventual independence,” its “Chinese” flavor still provides room for dialogue with Beijing.

“Chinese Taiwanese independence” also shares a common foundation with the KMT’s “Chinese Taiwan,” as the latter concept already includes the possibility of its existence.

Zhongguoren, “the Chinese people,” and huaren have always existed in different countries. The people on both sides of the Strait are “Chinese people” and zhongguoren. But this does not mean that we cannot have one state on each side.

“Chinese Taiwanese independence” welcomes the new cross-strait situation by “seeking mutual survival through reconciliation” (a Democratic Progressive Party slogan) and “the preservation of differences through finding consensus” (a KMT slogan), and is worthy of serious consideration by the pan-green camp.

Ning Yin-bin is a writer.

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