Say YES to Taiwan

Accept peaceful coexistence

Washington, 29 October 1997

On the occasion of the visit of China's President Jiang Zemin to Washington, there is yet another public debate about Taiwan and its status. Some commentators have argued that this matter should have a low profile, lest it "provokes" the Chinese, and aggravates the "sensitive" ties between the United States and China.

We argue that this matter is equally -- if not more -- sensitive to the people of Taiwan, whose voice was never heard in the debates about the future of the island. At Shimonoseki (1895), Cairo (1943), San Francisco (1952), and Shanghai (1972), other powers made pronouncements and decisions about the status of Taiwan without consulting the people of Taiwan.

This time around, it is essential that the people of Taiwan have a free choice on their future. The "One China" policy is now outdated. The notion that Taiwan is part of China is an anachronistic fiction and should therefore be discarded immediately. The native Taiwanese (85% of the population of the island) had nothing to do with the Civil War in China, but from the 1940s on became unwilling victims when the Kuomintang moved to the island and established its repressive regime. We don't want the future of our homeland to become a hostage to that Civil War.

The US and other democratic nations around the world owe it to the people of Taiwan and to their own conscience that the principles of freedom, democracy, and self-determination are upheld, and that Taiwan is accepted in the international community as a free, democratic and independent nation.

The large majority of the people in Taiwan consider themselves Taiwanese, not Chinese -- in the same way the people in the United States consider themselves Americans and not British anymore, in spite of the fact that they speak English.

The Taiwanese have made it clear over the past years that we want to be accepted in the international community as a free and democratic nation. We emphasize that we wish to live side by side with China as friendly neighbors, but will defend ourselves if necessary to preserve our freedom and independence -- or in Western words with a universal appeal: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Taiwan doesn't want to be on a collision course with China, but it is China which should stop its threats and aggression. Perpetuating the "creative ambiguity" of the One China policy condones China's aggression and fans the flames of Chinese nationalism, endangering peace and stability in East Asia.

It is thus essential to let the Taiwanese decide their own future without interference by China. It is time to "Say YES to Taiwan", and accept our beautiful island, "Ilha Formosa", as a free, democratic and independent member of the international community.

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