Washington, 17 December 1997
On Wednesday, 17 December 1997, the Washington Post, slightly
belatedly, came up with an editorial commentary on the 29 November
1997 elections in Taiwan. The editorial was titled
Milestone", and was also published as "Taiwan
shows the Way" in the Paris-based International Herald
Tribune. The editorial termed the election result a "remarkable
victory" and stated that the consolidation and maturity of
Taiwan's democracy stands as a "...constant rebuttal to
Beijing's contention that Chinese values and self-determination
While the editorial is overall very positive about the
developments in Taiwan, it still contains a number of
misconceptions, which should be cleared up immediately:
- First and foremost we want to emphasize that the consolidation
and maturity of Taiwan's democracy have little to do with "Chinese"
values, but are the result of our Taiwanese identity and
values, just like American democracy is based on the American
identity and values as opposed to colonial-time English values.
- The editorial also states that the United States "...is
certainly opposed to China's forcing a solution, but it also opposes
any unilateral Taiwanese moves towards independence that China would
view as provocative and unacceptable."
- As it can be safely assumed that for the time being China will
view any move towards Taiwan independence "provocative and
unacceptable", we doubt seriously that the United States
should let its policies be determined by a repressive regime in
Beijing in this way. The people on the island should be allowed to
determine their own future, and if they decide on independence, we
should respect their decision. That is what the principle
of self-determination is all about.
- We may add, that the people in the American colonies went ahead
with their Declaration of Independence in spite of the fact that
England found American independence very "provocative and
unacceptable." Do we then have the right to tell the
Taiwanese they can't have their independence?
- The editorial furthermore states that the election "...wasn't
about foreign policy but rather about local issues."
- The issues may indeed have been local issues, but the
underlying trend is that the people on the island are not
satisfied with the Kuomintang's status quo, and want change.They
want change on the island itself, away from the KMT's corruption
- It is also clear they want change in Taiwan's international
status: It is significant that among the elected officials were a
large number of prominent advocates of Taiwan independence and of
the island's membership in the United Nations, such as Tainan
mayor George Chang and Taoyuan County Magistrate Ms. Lü
- It is also peculiar of the Washington Post to state that "...it's
significant that the DPP, as soon as it won the local election,
began repositioning itself as an advocate for peace and stability."
- The democratic opposition has always been an
advocate of peace and stability. Indeed, peace and stability can
only be achieved if China gives up its claims on the island, and
accepts it as a friendly neighbor, instead of perpetuating an old
Civil War in which the Taiwanese had no part.
- The editorial also misquoted DPP-chairman Hsu Hsin-liang as
saying that the party's pro-independence platform is "...interesting
only as a historical relic."
- What Mr. Hsu actually said was that the pro-independence clause
in the DPP-platform "...is a historical document, just
like the U.S. Declaration of Independence."
The conclusion must thus be that the Taiwanese do NOT favor "...a
continuation of the current ill-defined situation", as the
Washington Post proclaims, but rather want to be accepted as
a full and equal member of the international community.
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