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
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outdated.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
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
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *