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Listen to the voice

DPP bill calls for poll on cross-strait agreements

By Rich Chang
Thursday, Oct 16, 2008, Page 1

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday proposed a draft bill that would require any cross-strait agreements on issues concerning “critical national interests” be put to a referendum and decided on by Taiwanese voters.

“The proposed bill prohibits the government from authorizing civil groups to sign agreements between Taiwan and China on issues that concern national defense, diplomacy, finance and economics,” DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) told a press conference.

Under the proposed bill, before the government signs any agreements with China, the Executive Yuan must submit drafts of the agreements to the Legislative Yuan. Those drafts must then be negotiated and passed by respective legislative committees and the agreements could only take effect after gaining the approval of Taiwanese voters in a referendum.

“The spirit of the bill is to make sure that Taiwan’s future is decided by its 23 million people,” Lai said, adding that such major agreements as the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with China must first obtain the approval of Taiwanese voters via a referendum.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-yu (陳啟昱) said the proposed bill was also aimed at strengthening the Legislative Yuan’s monitoring system and supervising cross-strait agreements undertaken by the Executive Yuan on national issues.

As an example of why the bill was needed, Chen said that this June after an agreement on cross-strait charter flight services was signed by Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and its Chinese counterpart, “[President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government] was oblivious to the legislature’s supervision but only informed the legislature later via an administrative directive.”

On agreements to be signed by civil groups authorized by the Mainland Affairs Council, the proposed bill said that the Executive Yuan must agree to the items and talk them over with the legislature before the agreement is signed.

Lai yesterday said that the caucus would send the proposed bill to the legislative Procedure Committee for approval next week.

When asked for comment, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) dismissed the need for such a bill. Chang said the Legislative Yuan should deliberate over the content of the proposal as it might constitute a legislative interference in the executive branch.

Chang added that he would urge the Executive Yuan to propose its own version of the bill.


Listen to the voice

Beijing orders sweeping dairy product tests

BLANKET WITHDRAWAL: China’s quality watchdog ordered all milk powder and liquid milk produced before Sept. 14 pulled from shelves and tested for melamine

Thursday, Oct 16, 2008, Page 1

China sought to reassure Taiwanese consumers that its dairy products were safe yesterday, a day after authorities confirmed that a toddler in Hong Kong developed kidney stones from consuming milk and cookies laced with melamine. Beijing has ordered that all milk products more than a month old be pulled for testing.

Spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said at a news conference in Beijing that authorities were very concerned about the scandal, in which contaminated infant formula killed four babies and sickened tens of thousands of children nationwide.

“We have taken a serious approach,” Yang said. “China has launched a thorough investigation into this issue to help restore the trust of Taiwanese consumers.”

After China’s melamine scandal broke last month, Taiwanese authorities launched a sweeping inspection of milk powders and related food items. More than 160 products containing Chinese milk and vegetable-based proteins have been removed from stores.

Taiwanese and Chinese food safety authorities have agreed to set up a hot line to inform each other of food safety emergencies.

China has ordered all milk products more than a month old pulled from store shelves for emergency testing, the largest blanket product withdrawal since the scandal first came to light.

All milk powder and liquid milk produced before Sept. 14 must be tested by manufacturers nationwide, China’s chief quality watchdog said in an announcement reported by the Xinhua news agency on Tuesday and posted on its Web site yesterday.

“Regardless of the brand or the batch, they must be taken off shelves. Their sale must be stopped,” the order from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.

Products will be sold again only after they pass quality tests and are labeled as saying they do not exceed limits for melamine, the safety watchdog said.

It was not clear why the cutoff date for the latest notice was Sept. 14, but China launched a countrywide inspection of dairy-producing facilities focusing on milk collecting centers on Sept. 15.

In Vietnam, state-controlled media said yesterday the Health Ministry has banned all products for human consumption that are contaminated with melamine.

Deputy Health Minister Cao Minh Quang also told the Labor newspaper that importers must send back any tainted imported products to the country of origin.

Chinese authorities have blamed dairy suppliers for the food safety scandal that began last month, saying they added melamine to watered-down milk to fool quality control tests and make the product appear rich in protein.

Melamine can cause kidney stones as the body tries to eliminate it and, in extreme cases, lead to life-threatening kidney failure.

Infants and toddlers are particularly susceptible.

Hong Kong’s government said on Tuesday that a two-year-old boy developed two kidney stones after consuming melamine-laced milk and cookies.

Government spokesman Alex Cheng said the boy had been drinking three packs of milk produced by Chinese dairy Yili Industrial Group Co each week for the past two years. He also ate about five packs per week of chocolate-filled Koala cookies, made by Tokyo-based snack maker Lotte Group.




Listen to the voice

The Cairo Declaration, 65 years on

By Jerome Keating
Thursday, Oct 16, 2008, Page 8

The 65th anniversary of the Cairo Declaration (Dec. 1, 1943) approaches and I have always wondered at its rhetoric as well as how often this simple declaration is used by some to justify China’s claim to Taiwan, which was called Formosa at the time.

Let us grant that the declaration was made in wartime, and that it would require rhetorical wording to rally the troops to the righteousness of a cause. Granted, it was a statement and not a treaty. It had no legal force; there were no binding commitments. It was also made at a time when, although the darkest hour of the war was past, there was much more to come. For some, the concern that Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) might sign a private peace treaty with Japan and opt out of the war remained. Look past that, however, and focus on one simple, neglected aspect: the rhetoric involved and the problems that arose from this.

The declaration states: “The three great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.”

A quick check reveals that Japan secured Formosa in the legitimate Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) at the end of a war with the Qing Dynasty. It was a war that both countries entered because each wanted a controlling influence in Korea. The primary issue in 1895 was control over Korea; Formosa was given away to keep Korea free. The Republic of China was not yet formed, nor the People’s Republic of China.

Questions arise from this. Did Japan actually steal Formosa? Do all treaties represent or involve stealing? If so, who did Japan steal Formosa from? Did it steal Formosa from the Chinese or was it the Manchu Qing Dynasty that had conquered China as well as Manchuria, Tibet and parts of Formosa? Did the Chinese ever own Formosa? Who were the Chinese on Formosa?

Certainly there were Chinese people that had come to Formosa, but many of them, aside from Qing bureaucrats, came illegally to escape their lives under the Qing. In addition, no country had controlled the whole island of Taiwan before the Japanese.

The western half of Taiwan was governed by the Qing and that half became a province in 1885 — 10 years before the 1895 treaty — but the other half was Aboriginal territory. The Qing surely had designs on the lands of those “uncooked savages” and acquiring that land would clearly be stealing.

Even on the land governed by the Qing, history records a tenuous rule there with an uprising every three years and a rebellion every five. In the treaty of 1895, the Qing government was getting rid of its troublesome half of the island. The remaining land was not the Qing government’s to give. It didn’t mind Japan “stealing” it.

The Cairo Declaration has additional nebulous aspects; unfortunately in all of this no one ever asked the Taiwanese and Aborigines what they wanted. Even if one thinks that US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was trying to do the right thing, one needs only to look at the Tehran Conference immediately following, when Roosevelt agreed to let Stalin redraw the borders of Poland so that he could “steal” some Polish territory.

Wartime rhetoric yes, but more than a half century has passed. The Treaty of San Francisco never stated who Japan should give Taiwan to.

A faint ray of hope appears when you force the US government into a corner and ask what the status of Taiwan is: The answer is that it is still “undecided.” Even the “one China” mantra that the US State Department constantly trots out simply means the US acknowledges that China thinks it owns Taiwan.

But that mantra leaves unsaid that the official US position is that Taiwan’s fate is undecided.

Undecided? Isn’t it time to end this circuitous rhetoric? Here we are, some 63 years after the end of World War II, and the fate of 23 million people in a thriving, hard-won democracy is still “undecided.” Ironically, after that war, the UN charter states that all people have the right to self-determination. All, that is, except 23 million Taiwanese.

One can excuse the rhetoric of the Cairo Declaration as a result of the circumstances. But now it is time to see it for what it was and to right its results. It is a great shame for the US and the rest of the world community not to recognize Taiwan’s right to self-determination. It is also time to recognize that the real greed and threat to stability in the Taiwan Strait is from China, and not the freedom-loving people of Taiwan. It is time to give Taiwan a place in the UN — not in the kow-towing, mealy mouthed, fawning approach of the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) government, but in the simple straight-forward recognition that free people deserve the recognition of their freedom and their land.

If there is anyone that wants to steal Taiwan from its people, it is the PRC. Taiwan belongs to the Taiwanese. Taiwan is Taiwan, China is China. That is not rhetoric, that’s fact. It is time the world acknowledges this.

Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei.


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