Taiwan Communiqué No. 87, August 1999

Let Taiwan be Taiwan


We want to emphasize that the Taiwanese people were never consulted in the formulation of the "One China" policy, which presently prevents Taiwan from being accepted as a full and equal member in the international community.

While it may have been a convenient fiction, devised by Mr. Kissinger at the behest of the equally repressive Messrs. Mao Tse-tung and Chiang Kai-shek, it was a running time bomb, because it failed to incorporate the aspirations of the people of Taiwan to be accepted as a free and democratic nation.

Furthermore, while the U.S. — and the Clinton Administration in particular — always speaks highly of the principles of freedom and democracy, in practice the U.S. has isolated a democratic Taiwan and pushed it into an inferior negotiating position. It "engaged" Communist China, and relegated Taiwan to second-class international citizenship.

The conflict between the two countries can only be resolved if China accepts Taiwan as a friendly neighbor, and ends the Civil War they fought against the Kuomintang 50 years ago. We Taiwanese were not a part of that Civil War and do not want the future of our homeland to be held hostage to it.

Taiwan is a shining example of the fact that Asian people do want freedom and full democracy. We urge the US and other Western nations to support democratically- elected President Lee and the people of Taiwan in their search for greater international status, instead of sidelining Taiwan, and relegating the Taiwanese people to second-class citizenship in the family of nations.

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"Doctor" USA trying to tranquilize President Lee

In order to come to fruitful discussions or detente between China and Taiwan it is essential that China ceases it threats to use military force against Taiwan. The Clinton Administration has done very little to achieve this, but has condoned a missile buildup along the Chinese coast, which is presently ten times as large as the missile force in Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis.

The US should applaud Mr. Lee's step, and urge China to accept the reality that Taiwan and China are two neighboring states. The US should also emphasize that the people of Taiwan have the right to determine their own future, as was stated so eloquently in the Washington Post editorial of 14 July 1999 ("Chinese Threats").

Chen Shui-bian: "Let Taiwan decide its own future"

On 28 July 1999, Mr. Chen Shui-bian, the DPP party's candidate in Taiwan's upcoming presidential elections, said the island should be left alone to decide its political future and appealed to the world to respect whichever path it chooses.

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"The people of Taiwan have chosen to pursue a democratic system, to live in a democratic way of life,'' he said. "I believe all decisions based on democratic process should be respected. Only the people of Taiwan have the right to choose Taiwan's future and destiny.''

Chen and his party, whose founding principles seek a sovereign Republic of Taiwan, supported President Lee Teng-hui's discarding of the ambiguous "one China'' doctrine that has been the source of tension with China for decades.

Chen also made clear that Taiwan and the mainland were two separate and independent nations, which should develop a "special international relationship." Unlike Lee, who still espouses an eventual union with the mainland — albeit under a mutually acceptable democracy — Chen said the issue should be settled by a referendum.

"Whether the two different countries across the Taiwan Strait should be unified into a single country in the future needs to be decided by Taiwan's 22 million residents through a referendum", he stated. "Neither China's communist leaders nor its 1.2 billion people should have any say over the island's future and destiny", Chen said.

Chen, who served as Taipei's mayor from 1994 through 1998, said he would try to maintain peaceful co-existence with the mainland and boost economic links. "Relations across the Taiwan Strait should be better, not worse," he said.

Asked whether Beijing's communist leaders would accept his victory, Chen responded: "It's not the Chinese communists who are electing the national leader of Taiwan. It's Taiwan's 22 million people who are choosing their own national leader. It's up to Taiwan's people, not China or its people, to decide."

Presbyterian Church: an affirmation and an appeal

At the end of July 1999, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued the following Affirmation and Appeal in response to President Lee Teng-hui's statement on "nation-to-nation" relations with China:

An affirmation and an appeal

regarding President Lee Teng-hui's statement on

"The Two-Nation policy"

The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, based on her understanding and viewpoint of the Christian faith, is deeply concerned about the future of Taiwan. In a public statement on "The Sovereignty of Taiwan" on August 20, 1991 we stated that "we firmly proclaim that:

  1. Taiwan is a sovereign country. Taiwan's sovereignty and land belong to the people of Taiwan.
  2. Taiwan and China are two different sovereign countries."

We are pleased to see that President Lee Teng-hui has publicly declared recently that:

  1. Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation.
  2. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have special "state-to-state (kok tui kok) relations.
  3. "One China" does not include Taiwan.

Our church appreciates the emphasis of President Lee Teng-hui that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country, and we strongly affirm and support this stance. We expect all the people in Taiwan will recognize, accept, and experience this fact. We expect and hope that the government and people can cooperate hand-in-hand together to confirm this status as a nation, including:

Rev. William Lo
  1. Forming a new constitution, which clearly defines and affirms that our land includes Taiwan, the Pescadores, Kinmen, Matsu, and other related islands, and framing new laws as necessary to reflect this reality.
  2. Quickly pass a law or amend the Constitution so that in case of any threat to or deprivation of the sovereignty of Taiwan, the people may express their determination to maintain their dignity and the sovereignty of Taiwan through a plebiscite.
  3. Our government should use "Taiwan" as the name of our nation and should positively apply for membership in the United nations and other international organizations so that we can vigorously pursue diplomatic relations with other nations and improve our international status. Then we can have a new and good relationship with China as well as other countries in the Asia-Pacific region — based on justice and peace — respecting and helping each other.

Our Church appeals to the people of Taiwan, if we are faced with threat or conflict from without or within, to confirm our confidence and our will to the end that we might bravely create a bright future for Taiwan — protecting the lives, safety, and freedom of the people of Taiwan. At the same time, we sincerely appeal to the ecumenical church and to international societies to accept and respect our struggle and effort for self-determination as a human right.

Your kingdom is founded on righteousness and justice; love and faithfulness are shown in all you do.

Psalms 89:14

T.H. Hsu, Moderator of the 46th General Assembly

William J.K. Lo, General Secretary

Taiwan discovers itself

One of the results of the heated debates regarding Taiwan's status during July/August 1999, was that several international publications took a welcome closer look at developments in Taiwan itself. Two good examples were Newsweek, which printed an excellent article titled "Escaping the past" in the end of July 1999 issue of its international edition, and the Wall Street Journal, which published a good article by Matt Forney on 27 July 1999, titled "Taiwan finally begins to find itself, and overcome its China syndrome". Some quotes from both articles:

Newsweek: "Escaping the past"

"Every thing Taiwanese is cool. Lee Teng-hui is leading the race away from mainland China."

"Chiang Kai-shek has seen better days. At the National Teachers College in Taipei, students are lobbying to pull down his statue."

"But in Taiwan, now a vibrant democracy, the connection to China is looking less and less appealing."

"These days, Taiwan's history begins not 5,000 years ago on the mainland, but with Australasian tribes that inhabited Taiwan when Chinese migrants began arriving 400 years ago."

"Independent thinking, in tune with Taiwan's new political freedoms, is replacing obedience in the classrooms. Courses on old Confucian values like discipline and respect, preached for decades to students by mainland Chinese who used to dominate the political scene, are being phased out in favor of "Understanding Taiwan", a new class that teaches 12- and 13-year-olds to be independent, cosmopolitan citizens of the new Taiwan."

"Until recently, Taiwanese students grew up knowing more about the provinces in mainland China than they did about their own island."

"…President Lee … is trying to end the "civil-war mentality" so that Taiwan can move on socially and politically. It's clear Beijing doesn't like it: each step he takes to distance the island from China will surely be met by new threats."

Wall Street Journal: "Overcoming the China syndrome"

"This island is part of China in Beijing's eyes, but it has become its own place in the eyes of many of the 22 million people who live here. In a convergence of the political and the cultural, Taiwan is rediscovering its roots after 50 years of competing with the mainland for status as the true soul of China."

"Books about Taiwanese history and culture are flying off the shelves."

"The local language too, has a newfound cachet. Though spoken by nine out of ten people here, the Taiwanese language long took a back seat in politics and culture to Mandarin, the official language of both the mainland and Taiwan. Indeed, until five years ago, the use of Taiwanese in school was a punishable offense. Now, it's used as a selling point."

"For decades, the only culture allowed in Taiwan was that brought by Gen. Chiang Kai-shek and the two million Nationalist troops who fled to the island from mainland China in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War to Mao Tse-tung's Communists. To bolster their claims as the sole government of all of China, the nationalists decreed that their (implicitly superior) language, culture, and history would replace those of the people who had settled here generations earlier.

That remained the status quo until this decade, when Mr. Lee, Taiwan's first native-born president, started shedding the trappings of authoritarian rule and nurturing American-style democracy, slowly dropping Taipei's pretense to rule all of China, and lately, its claims to be part of China at all."

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