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Chinese lawyers say Tibetan unrest last year drew from valid grievances

POLICY FAILURES: A report by Open Constitution Intiative members placed blame on Beijing for incompetent officials and for not adapting Tibetan culture to the ruling system

Monday, Jun 08, 2009, Page 1

¡§When you can no longer find work in your own land ... and when you realize that your core value systems are under attack, then the Tibetan people¡¦s panic and sense of crisis is not difficult to understand.¡¨¡X Open Constitution Initiative report

A group of prominent Chinese lawyers and legal scholars have released a research report arguing that the Tibetan riots and protests of March last year were rooted in legitimate grievances brought about by failed government policies ¡X and not through a plot of the Dalai Lama.

The lengthy paper is the result of interviews conducted over a month in two Tibetan regions. It represents the first independent investigation into the causes of the widespread protests, which the Chinese government harshly suppressed and blamed on the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and other Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala.

The government has quashed the expression of any dissenting opinions on the causes of the protests. The research paper was quietly posted last month on Chinese Web sites, and an English translation was released last week by the International Campaign for Tibet, a group based in Washington.

The authors of the report are members of a Chinese group called Gongmeng, or Open Constitution Initiative, which seeks to promote legal reform. Lawyers in the group also tried to file lawsuits on behalf of families whose babies suffered in the tainted milk scandal last year, and two members have defended Tibetans in court this year.

The authors of the report concluded that Chinese government policies had promoted a form of economic modernization in Tibet that had left many Tibetans feeling increasingly disenfranchised over the decades. The researchers found that Tibetans had enormous difficulty finding work in their homeland, while ethnic Han migrants seem to have a monopoly on jobs in restaurants, hotels and stores.

When violent rioting broke out in Lhasa on March 14 last year, after four days of peaceful protests, businesses owned by Chinese were looted and burned. At least 19 people were killed, most of them Han.

¡§An important perspective for interpreting the 3/14 incident is that it was reaction made under stress by a society and people to the various changes that have been taking place in their lives over the past few decades,¡¨ the report said. ¡§The notion that appears impossible to understand is the implication that reasonable demands were being vented, and this is precisely what we need to understand and reflect upon.¡¨

¡§When the land you¡¦re accustomed to living in, and the land of the culture you identify with, when the lifestyle and religiosity is suddenly changed into a ¡¥modern city¡¦ that you no longer recognize; when you can no longer find work in your own land, and feel the unfairness of lack of opportunity, and when you realize that your core value systems are under attack, then the Tibetan people¡¦s panic and sense of crisis is not difficult to understand,¡¨ the report said.

The report also cast blame on the governing structure in Tibetan regions, saying that there had been problems adapting Tibetan culture and society to the ¡§ruling state¡¦s systems.¡¨ It also criticized Beijing for installing incompetent Tibetan local officials who, the researchers said, play up the threat of separatist movements to acquire more power and money from Beijing.

Xu Zhiyong (??, a member of Gongmeng, said in a telephone interview that the report had been submitted to the government, but that there had been no response.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama accused China on Saturday of imposing a ¡§death sentence¡¨ on Tibet, as he arrived in Paris for a visit.

He was to be named an honorary citizen of the French capital yesterday, despite warnings from the Chinese government that his trip will harm relations with France.



DPP legislator proposes debate on China policy

By Lee Hsin-fang
Monday, Jun 08, 2009, Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (°ª§ÓÄP) said yesterday he would submit a proposal to the party¡¦s Central Standing Committee this week asking headquarters to hold a debate on the party¡¦s China policy.

Among the topics to be included in the debate would be whether the party¡¦s rank and file should be allowed to travel to China, whether to loosen restrictions on Taiwanese semiconductor investment in China and whether Taiwanese firms should be able to set up 12-inch wafer fabs in China, he said.

On Friday, President Ma Ying-jeou (°¨­^¤E) told Michael Splinter, chairman of the Santa Clara-based Applied Materials, that the government was studying the feasibility of a plan to allow semiconductor manufacturers to move their 12-inch wafer fabs to China.

Following Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu¡¦s (³¯µâ) visit to China late last month to promote the World Games ¡X which will be held in Kaohsiung from July 16 to July 26 ¡X in her capacity as president of the World Games Kaohsiung Organizing Committee, Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair, another DPP member, has also said he will visit Xiamen, Fujian Province, later this month.

Gao said the majority opinion within the party was that allowing party members to visit China was inevitable and that as a result a set of protocols must be established regulating party members¡¦ trips.

As to when the debate would take place or what format it would take, Gao said the Central Standing Committee would make the decision.





Power plays that cut out tongues

By Cheng Cheng-yu ¾G¥¿·Ô
Monday, Jun 08, 2009, Page 8

Ten years ago, curriculum standards for elementary and high schools were redrafted and expanded into nine-year guidelines for compulsory education. Under pressure from people active in promoting indigenous culture, the Ministry of Education was compelled to include Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages alongside Mandarin under the category of national languages.

One day I went to observe meetings of the drafting committee.

To my consternation, I saw that that the three conveners who were native speakers of the non-Mandarin languages were absent.

After further enquiries, I found out that these committee members thought the meetings were a waste of time.

Their reasoning was that Taiwanese mother tongues had been defined as ¡§optional¡¨ subjects within the national language category and therefore few would choose to study them.

In response, the Taiwan Southern Society mobilized 12 legislators and 25 academics for a meeting with then minister of education Kirby Yang (·¨´Â²»), asking for two hours of compulsory native language classes per week to be included in the curriculum for grades one to nine.

Finally, thanks mostly to the efforts of five members of our team, including professor Yang Wei-zhe (·¨ºû­õ) and pastor John Tin (¾G¨à¥É), the native language group chaired by convener Chen Po-chang (³¯§B¼ý) passed a motion requiring one hour of mandatory native language classes to be included in the curriculum for grades one to nine.

But when the proposals were sent to the general program drafting group for discussion, we were surprised to see that our decision had not been placed on the agenda.

I asked the executive secretary of the group what had happened, and the reply was that ¡§politics is politics and education is education.¡¨

It seems that in the minds of bureaucrats, learning languages other than Mandarin in the school system is a matter of political privilege, not a right.

After much wrangling, one hour of native language classes per week was included in the final version of curriculum outlines, mandatory for elementary schools but optional for high schools.

As it turned out, very few high school students chose to take these classes, so they ended up as an extra-curricular social activity ¡X or were dropped altogether.

At this point, Chen stepped in again. Now director of the Preparatory Office for the National Academy for Educational Research, Chen said that education policy on languages was determined by power plays rather than specialist knowledge.

He also said that determining whether a language course would be optional or compulsory was based not on educational considerations but politics.

Chen¡¦s observations back up rumors circulating about how Ministry of Education committees treat native language courses in elementary school, namely that provisions for native language acquisition shall be ¡§flexible¡¨ and that students must choose between studying a native language or English. Inevitably, therefore, everyone would choose English.

The outcome of all this would be precisely what Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (¼B¥ü¥È) once suggested when answering legislators¡¦ questions: that children are perfectly capable of learning their mother tongue at home.

The survival of native language teaching in elementary school is now in question, and there is talk that a final decision will be made on the issue within weeks.

If Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (½²­^¤å) and all others who express concern about the development of Taiwanese culture do not realize that this is the time to stand up and protest, then they had better think about what they are really worth as Taiwanese.

Cheng Cheng-yu is president of the Taiwan Southern Society.



The civil war that was never ours

By Jerome Keating
Monday, Jun 08, 2009, Page 8

When was China¡¦s Civil War? Some say from 1945 to 1949; others add the years 1927 to 1937 and still others claim it continued intermittently throughout World War II because most posit the war was between two Leninist-modeled parties, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

I propose a different perspective.

China¡¦s Civil War began in 1911 and, except for an occasional peaceful hiatus, has continued in a variety of forms, with a variety of participants, up to the present.

A rose by any other name is still a rose; so, too, a civil war. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language provides a suitable definition of ¡§civil war¡¨ as a ¡§war between factions or regions of the same country.¡¨

From the Wuchang coup in 1911 onwards, different factions, groups, warlords and regions have vied with each other to control and ¡§liberate¡¨ China.

Liberate China from what? The Manchus conquered China in 1644 and then went on to conquer Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang and the western half of the island of Taiwan.

In the Wuchang uprising, to be free from the Manchus, 15 provinces seceded and the war between China¡¦s factions or regions began. The 15 provinces had to contend with Yuan Shih-kai (°K¥@³Í), who controlled the formidable Beiyang Army and had the support of the northern provinces.

Yuan fought not for the emperor ¡X he would force him to abdicate in February 1912 ¡X nor for the developing republic.

He became, in effect, a warlord: ¡§a military commander exercising civil power in a region, whether in nominal allegiance to the national government or in defiance of it.¡¨

Yuan forced a compromise. Sun Yat-sen (®]¶h¥P) stepped down as president and Yuan became provisional president of the short-lived, new republic. Elections were held and the Nationalists won a majority of the parliamentary seats, but a key leader, Sung Chiao-jen (§º±Ð¤¯), was assassinated in 1913. After having himself named president by parliament in 1914, Yuan disbanded it.

Sun fled to Japan and called for a second revolution to continue the civil war, but the rebellious Nationalist provinces were put down.

Yuan had not finished. In 1915, he named himself emperor. This cost him the loyalty of his closest supporters, inflaming conflict between Yuan and dissenting factions and regions of the country.

Yuan died in 1916, but the civil war continued into what is called the warlord era as a semi-official government in Beijing ¡X recognized by the US and others ¡X carried out diplomatic functions.

Sun returned from Japan in 1917. He allied himself with warlords in the south and set up a rival military government in Guangzhou in 1921. The civil war continued.

After Sun¡¦s death in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek (½±¤¶¥Û) and the southern warlords began the Northern Expedition to eliminate the northern warlords, disbanding the Beijing government in 1927. Chiang also sought to eliminate the CCP, which had been established in 1921. A massacre in Shanghai was the result, followed by Mao Zedong¡¦s (¤ò¿AªF) Long March and the Xian Incident in which Chiang was abducted by one of his own officers. By the time of the Sino-Japanese war, China¡¦s civil war had narrowed down to two surviving factions, the Nationalists and the Communists.

What about Taiwan throughout this period?

The island that the Qing had partially ruled from 1683 and which became a province in 1885 quickly exited the stage in 1895 when the Qing ceded it to Japan as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

This was long before 1912 and China¡¦s Civil War, and Japan would be the first nation to control the entire island of Taiwan.

World War II ended in 1945, but it would be seven more years before the San Francisco Peace Treaty was ratified.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Civil War supposedly ended in 1949 with the KMT retreating into exile. Here the murkiness begins.

China did not want to revert to the borders of the Ming empire; instead, it wanted to possess and control kingdoms that the Manchus conquered. It wanted Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang.

Taiwan was not considered to be part of China at this time because it was part of Japan. And, as things played out, Mongolia had support from Russia and was able to maintain its independence.

Tibet was not as lucky. Britain sought to divide Tibet between itself and China to preempt Russian influence in that area. Xinjiang, for its part, had no support from any neighbors.

After Japan¡¦s surrender, US forces landed on Taiwan in September 1945. They liberated and transported Allied prisoners of war that had been in Japanese camps around the island. These forces later ferried soldiers of Chiang Kai-shek¡¦s army to Taiwan as a caretaker force.

Taiwan thus has always been outside China¡¦s Civil War, and when the San Francisco Peace Treaty stated that Japan would surrender the islands of Penghu and Taiwan, it never stated to whom.

This is why the US considers Taiwan¡¦s status to be undetermined.

The Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC), which came into effect in 1947, claimed that Taiwan was a part of the ROC.

Yet the San Francisco Peace Treaty did not grant Taiwan to the ROC in 1952.

The same Constitution also claimed Mongolia and Tibet as part of the ROC, but Russia called Taipei¡¦s bluff when it supported Mongolia¡¦s entry into the UN as an independent nation. The ROC backed away from vetoing the application.

Taiwan indirectly participated in China¡¦s Civil War in that the KMT stripped it of all food and materials that could support its losing civil war campaign in China.

Likewise, many Taiwanese were conscripted and forced to fight on the KMT¡¦s side in that war ¡X but that was all.

Taiwan has always been separate: before, during and after China¡¦s Civil War.

Isn¡¦t it time, then, to give up the canard that Taiwan and China split after the Civil War in 1949?

Taiwan is Taiwan; China is China.

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