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Letter to the Editor

China Hasn't Shifted Its Stance on Taiwan

Friday, June 23, 2006

Edward Cody's June 15 story, "China Easing Its Stance on Taiwan; Tolerance Grows for Status Quo," gives the false impression that China has shifted its stance on Taiwan. Chinese leaders may give lip service to the concept of maintaining the status quo, but in reality China's People's Liberation Army is in the midst of a major military buildup, primarily designed to attack Taiwan and prevent the United States from coming to the island's assistance. A recent Pentagon report presents a concise overview of this buildup.

As Peter W. Rodman, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, stated in March: "China is continuously changing the status quo by increasing its number of missiles aimed at Taiwan. That is the real cause for tension in the area."

The "status quo" as defined by China is also quite different from reality: Taiwan is a free, democratic and independent nation, recognized by only about 25 countries in the world because of the anachronistic claim by the old and repressive Kuomintang regime - which fled China in 1949 and occupied Taiwan - that it represented all of China. That claim - to which the KMT clung until the early 1990s - was rather illusory.

What Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party government are attempting to do is to bring Taiwan's constitutional system into line with present-day reality. That constitution was drafted in 1946 in China and has no relevance for the new and democratic Taiwan. For example, it defines Taiwan's territory as including China and Mongolia.

If the United States is serious about fostering democracy around the world, it needs to be more supportive of Taiwan and its democratic achievements and ensure that the island's people have a free choice on their future instead of being bullied into "unification" by a repressive China.


President, Formosan Association for Public Affairs