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Charter backs Taiwan 'compromise'

CHARTER 08: The document, which supports a federated China, has been signed by more than 300 Chinese academics, government officials and other professionals

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008, Page 3

A charter signed last week by more than 300 Chinese from all walks of professional life envisioning a free and democratic country calls for Beijing to approach cross-strait relations with a full ¡§commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy¡¨ and to ¡§be prepared to compromise.¡¨

Charter 08, modeled on the former Czechoslovakia¡¦s Charter 77 ¡X named after the year in which it was signed ¡X was released last week to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948.

The document, a full English-language translation of which will be published in the Jan. 15 issue of the New York Review of Books, argues against a one-party state and says a government ¡§exists for the protection of the human rights of its citizens.¡¨

It says that the failure to reform will only lead to increased social instability and injustice ¡X the products of a regime that has brutally ¡§stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse.¡¨

The translation can be viewed on the Review¡¦s Web site.

University of California professor Perry Link wrote in an introduction to his translation: ¡§The prominent citizens who have signed the document are from both outside and inside the government, and include not only well-known dissidents and intellectuals, but also middle-level officials and rural leaders,¡¨

The signatories also include peasants, writers, entrepreneurs, lawyers and teachers.

The charter prompted police to detain at least two and harass others involved in the document¡¦s composition and signing, human rights groups including Chinese Human Rights Defenders and Reporters without Borders reported.

Section 3, Article 18 of the charter argues for a ¡§federated republic¡¨ of China based on respect for freedoms. The rights enjoyed in Hong Kong and Macau must be preserved, it says.

¡§With respect to Taiwan, we should declare our commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and then, negotiating as equals, and ready to compromise, seek a formula for peaceful unification,¡¨ it says.

Article 18 also calls on China to treat minorities equally. Although it does not name the highly sensitive areas of Tibet and Xinjiang, where brutal crackdowns on freedom of expression and religion have been used to silence calls for autonomy, equal treatment or independence from China, it calls for a ¡§federation of democratic communities of China.¡¨

¡§We should approach disputes in the national-minority areas of China with an open mind, seeking ways to find a workable framework within which all ethnic and religious groups can flourish,¡¨ the charter says.

In the days leading up to the charter¡¦s release, legal expert Zhang Zuhua (±i¯ª¾ì) and Liu Xiaobo (¼B¾åªi) ¡X the former chairman of Independent Chinese PEN, an NGO that supports freedom of speech ¡X were taken into police custody.

Liu, an activist known also for his role in the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989, is still in custody, rights groups say. Zhang was released after interrogation.



Legislator Chiu Yi has hair-raising experience

By Shih Hsiu-chuan
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008, Page 3

A supporter of former president Chen Shui-bian (³¯¤ô«ó) yesterday pulled off KMT Legislator Chiu Yi¡¦s (ªô¼Ý) hairpiece at the Control Yuan as the lawmaker was initiating impeachment proceedings against Judge Chou Chan-chun (©P¥e¬K) for his decision to release Chen following his indictment on Friday.

Huang Yung-tien (¶À¥Ã¥Ð) was then taken by police to Zhongzheng First Police District for questioning and was sent by police to the Taipei District Prosecutors¡¦ Office for further questioning three hours later.

¡§It was like my clothes and pants had been stripped off in the street,¡¨ Chiu said.

Tsai Chin-lung (½²ª÷Às), a police officer, was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying that Huang denied he intended to pull Chiu¡¦s hairpiece off and said it fell off because of the jostling of the crowd.

Chiu has filed a lawsuit against Huang, CNA reported.





Citizenship lesson for Lee

I was shocked to learn that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (§õ¼y¦w) does not seem to have even a basic understanding of US law regarding her citizenship. In fact, she seemed to try to confuse voters with misleading statements about US law, just as President Ma Ying-jeou (°¨­^¤E) did a few months ago.

The US State Department¡¦s Web site provides the following: A person wishing to renounce his or her US citizenship must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish US citizenship:

1. appear in person before a US consular or diplomatic officer, in a foreign country (normally at a US embassy or consulate); and

2. sign an oath of renunciation.

¡§Renunciations that do not meet the conditions described above have no legal effect. Because of the provisions of section 349(a)(5), Americans cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States. In fact, US courts have held certain attempts to renounce US citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds, as discussed below,¡¨ it says.

I hope Taiwanese will wake up and not allow themselves to be fooled by the KMT.

Southfield, Michigan



Kowtowing to Beijing would be ill-advised

By Richard Halloran
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008, Page 8

In 1792 and again in 1816, King George III of Britain sent ambassadors George Macartney and then William Pitt Amherst to China to negotiate the opening of trade between the leading country in the West and the leading country in the East.

In both cases, the British envoys were sent packing after refusing to kowtow as they approached China¡¦s Celestial Emperor, which they found humiliating. The kowtow usually required the person approaching the throne to kneel three times and touch his forehead to the floor three times each to acknowledge the superiority of the Middle Kingdom.

Today, among the thousands of recommendations being thrust upon US president-elect Barack Obama comes one urging him to perform a virtual kowtow to the leaders of China by going to Beijing shortly after his inauguration.

The proposal is ill-advised and shows little understanding of China, past or present. Rather, the new president should invite Chinese President Hu Jintao (­JÀAÀÜ) to Washington with full honors at an appropriate time.

Jeffrey Garten, an undersecretary of commerce in the administration of former president Bill Clinton, has said: ¡§Barack Obama¡¦s first overseas trip should be to China and it should occur within a month after his inauguration on Jan. 20. He should bring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his ambassador to Beijing.¡¨

¡§Such a trip would be a showstopper, breaking all precedents,¡¨ Gartner, a professor at Yale, wrote in Newsweek magazine last weekend. ¡§The trip would not be designed to negotiate or resolve specific issues. Instead, Obama would be setting the style and the tone of a new US approach to China.¡¨

The Chinese, however, would see that visit as the young, new, and relatively inexperienced president coming, like the envoys of old, to pay tribute to China. In Asia, where symbols command more attention than in the West, an early Obama journey would be seen as the ¡§Western barbarian¡¨ submitting to the power of the Chinese court.

US presidents since Richard Nixon have made the mistake of going to China before inviting a Chinese leader to Washington. In Chinese eyes ¡X and for many others in Asia ¡X this puts the president in the position of supplicant. It reinforces the Chinese belief that they are reviving the Middle Kingdom as the center of the world, destined to be superior to all others.

A picture of chairman Mao Zedong (¤ò¿AªF) and Nixon in Mao¡¦s study in 1972 had Mao slouched back and relaxed in an easy chair while Nixon sat up straight on the edge of his chair like a schoolboy before the headmaster. Asians everywhere saw that as evidence that Nixon had come to seek favor from Mao.

Former president Clinton may have been the worst offender in travel to China. He journeyed through China for nine days in 1998, longer than his trips to other nations, and was seen by the Chinese as the leader of the western barbarians being dazzled by the splendor of their country.

Further, he was enticed into publicly taking a position on Taiwan that appeared to favor China, which claims sovereignty over the latter and has threatened to take it with force. The US asserts that any resolution of the Taiwan issue must be acceptable to the people on Taiwan and be peaceable. It is the most troubling issue between China and the US.

Against this backdrop, Obama should take the initiative and invite Hu to Washington where he would be received with honors. In a not-so-subtle way, that would indicate that President Obama considered Hu to be his equal, not his superior. The message would be that the new government in Washington has new ways of doing things.

Richard Halloran is a writer based in Hawaii.


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