During the past few months, the Taiwan Strait has been relatively quiet. International attention was focused on developments elsewhere. China itself was going through a significant leadership change, had its 16th Peoples Congress of the Communist Party, and fell into the grip of the SARS epidemic.
In the meantime Taiwan although not untouched by SARS and the economic dolldrums started to become much more self-assured in its international outlook. President Chen himself took a much firmer position vis-à-vis China on a number of issues: Chinas military threat, its attempts to isolate Taiwan internationally, economic ties, and SARS. The Foreign Ministry in Taipei under the new foreign minister Eugene Chien took a much more activist approach than his lackadaisical predecessor Tien Hung-mao, and mounted a strong campaign for Taiwan's membership in the WHO.
Below are two articles, which reflect the new approach: one of Taiwan's name, and one on the dangers of investing in China.
By Ng Chiau-tong, chairman of World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI). This article first appeared in the Taipei Times on 11 April 2003.
The name of a nation is a symbol of that nation, which is why every nation exerts great effort to find a representative name.
Some nations, however, have chosen both long and cumbersome names, which is the reason why the international community simply uses the geographic part of the name to designate such nations. "Venezuela" is short for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, "Guyana" for the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, or "Brazil" for the Federative Republic of Brazil. Of course, the names of some nations with already short names get further abbreviated, like "Peru" for the Republic of Peru. The Japanese name for its nation is "State of Japan," three characters in Japanese, but when taking an English name, the Japanese themselves abbreviated it to only one word, "Japan."
Regardless of a nation's domestic political situation, the most common addition to national names throughout the world is the word "Republic." Even if the common word "Republic" is the only addition to a geographical name, making it very easy to pronounce, the international community still finds it too long and cumbersome and only uses the geographical name. Sometimes these names are geographical names that have become national names, and sometimes it is the other way around.
Many nations have used a single word as the name of their nation from the day they were founded. Not only does this make it easy for them to pronounce the name of their own nation, but it also provides them with a high level of international name recognition. India and Malaysia are two examples of a total of 23 nations around the world that have adopted this approach.
There was almost immediate controversy over the union of states known as "Serbia and Montenegro" because it is unabbreviateable and therefore quite unwieldy for writers and governments. What if the disputed territory "South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands" were to become independent by some twist of fate? Such an island-state would have the world's longest name.
Some countries call themselves republics, but are actually dictatorships, such as the Republic of Iraq. Leaving out the word "Republic" from the national name, simply using a geographical name, does not harm national dignity, which is well exemplified by such proud nations as Canada, Singapore, Australia and Ireland.
Even though the question of a nation's name is a solemn and serious issue, there is nothing shameful in changing the name of a nation. Ceylon, for example, changed its name to Sri Lanka, and Burma changed its to Myanmar. Mongolia has changed its name from Greater Mongolia to the People's Republic of Mongolia, before, in 1992, becoming Mongolia.
"China" is used as the abbreviation of both the People's Republic of China (PRC) and
the Republic of China (ROC), while both sides reject the idea of two Chinas, saying that there is only one. Suppose that we could advance to the point where the idea of "two Chinas" becomes acceptable to both sides. Which of the " two China" would be larger? The ROC today still includes Mongolia in its territory! The fact that both the PRC and the ROC are called China in English corroborates the fact that there is only one China. The former has a people, the latter doesn't, i.e., the ROC is a people-less China.
So how should we deal with the Chinese republic on Taiwan? The ROC on Taiwan, the Republic of China on Taiwan, the ROC (Taiwan), or Taiwan ROC? There are in fact quite a few different names that would be appropriate for Taiwan. Why not the "Republic of Taiwan?" Or just "Taiwan?"
By Prof. Chen Lung-chu, chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation
This article first appeared in the Taipei Times on 16 April 2003. Reprinted with permission.
As the world's economies become increasingly interdependent, Taiwan has now established a partnership with the international economic system. Maintaining competitiveness and employing relatively cheap Chinese labor have therefore become crucial for many Taiwanese businesspeople.
In recent years, the number of Taiwanese businesspeople doing business in China has risen inexorably. Taiwan has become one of the major sources of China's foreign capital. As the Chinese economy rapidly grows, we should not ignore the trend that China is gradually replacing Taiwan's role in the international community.
In particular, since Taiwan entered the WTO last year, it has experienced the pressures of globalization even more acutely. The country also faces political localization, industrial transformation and changes to the external environment. Moreover, the local media have excessively glorified China, making quite a few Taiwanese lose confidence in their nation's economy. They think highly of the rise of a Chinese economic superpower and look down on the economic development of Taiwan.
A lot of foreign capital that had been flowing into Taiwan is now going to China as a result of the changes to the world economic system. But this does not mean that this country has no chance to further prosper. We should not lose confidence in ourselves because of short-term economic phenomena. It would be wrong to judge the nation's future based on short-term economic prosperity and ignore other elements of social development such as freedom, democracy and the popularization of knowledge which can take a long time to achieve.
Taiwan and China are two different societies in terms of social development. Taiwan's society today is a free, diverse and open one, and people have the "right to know." Many structural problems can be solved through democratic mechanisms. Its social development is therefore relatively stable.
China is not yet a democratic country. The Chinese government can still control the dissemination of news and restrict the circulation of information through the state apparatus. No news is not always good news. The future development of China is unpredictable. The people of Taiwan should never be fooled by its beautiful illusion.
Taiwan has to know both itself and its major competitors to face the challenges from China and of globalization. Competition is now for capital, technologies and talent rather than for traditional products. In other words, the nation needs to keep up in the race for global resources to en-sure its economic development.
Taiwan should not covet China's relatively low production costs. Instead, it has to strive to upgrade its industries and technologies, and to cultivate more talent. This is the best way to ensure the nation's sustainable development. The current economic downturn is just temporary. Taiwan's economy will find its way if we have hope and confidence, and strive for it with one heart.
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