On 1 January 1997, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, in a New Year speech broadcast on Chinese state television, called on "...Taiwanese from all walks of life to offer views and suggestions on ways to unify the mainland and the island." Mr. Jiang declared that unification "...is the common wish of all Chinese people." The proposal was seen by some observers as a relaxation of Deng Xiaoping's "one country, two systems", long rejected by Taiwan.
To Taiwanese around the world, Mr. Jiang's words sound as hollow as ever. Mr. Jiang has to understand that the Taiwanese have no desire whatsoever to subject themselves to a foreign nation that has a repressive and undemocratic political system. China's respect for human rights is deplorable, its repression in Tibet amounts to genocide, while its level of economic development stands at one-thirtieth of our own. This makes "unification" hardly an attractive proposition.
The best suggestion we can offer Mr. Jiang, is to accept Taiwan as a friendly neigbor, which is recognized by the international community as a full and equal member.
"Unification" is an outdated fixation, which may or may not be the wish of Chinese people (probably, most Chinese couldn't care less), but certainly it is not the wish of the Taiwanese people. We are holding the world -- and particularly the U.S. and Western Europe -- up to the principles of self-determination, democracy, and human rights, as laid down in the Charter of the United Nations. Under those principles, we have a right to be a free, democratic, and independent country.
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