Let the world

Say YES to Taiwan

Say YES to Taiwan

Washington, June 1998

In view of the visit of U.S. president Clinton to China, it is important that the United States not only reaffirms its position as laid down in the Taiwan Relations Act (non-use of force by China and adequate provision of defensive arms to Taiwan), but also reaffirms the right of the people of Taiwan to determine their own future.

These inalienable rights are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, which read, in Chapter I, article 1.2: that the Purposes of the United Nations are: "To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples."

Taiwanese and Taiwanese-Americans are not against improvement of relations with China, but object strongly if this would take place at the expense of the 21.5 million people of Taiwan or their future as a full, free, democratic and independent member of the international family of nations.

The United States should also make it crystal clear that it wholeheartedly supports that:

  1. the people of Taiwan have the right to determine their own future.
  2. the People's Republic of China should accept Taiwan as a friendly neighboring state, and
  3. the international community, and in particular those nations which claim to adhere to democratic principles, will accept Taiwan as a full and equal member in the international family of nations, including the United Nations.

We argue that it is vital for the international community to insist on the right for the people of Taiwan to determine their own future: their voice was never heard in the earlier debates about the future of the island. At Shimonoseki (1895), Cairo (1943), San Francisco (1952), and Shanghai (1972), other powers made pronouncements and decisions about the status of Taiwan without consulting the people of the island.

This time around, it is essential that the people of Taiwan have a free choice on their future. The "One China" policy is now outdated. The notion that Taiwan is part of China is an anachronistic fiction and should therefore be discarded immediately. The native Taiwanese (85% of the population of the island) had nothing to do with the Civil War in China, but from the 1940s on became unwilling victims when the Kuomintang moved to the island and established its repressive regime. We don't want the future of our homeland to become a hostage to that Civil War.

The US and other democratic nations around the world owe it to the people of Taiwan and to their own conscience that the principles of freedom, democracy, and self-determination are upheld, and that Taiwan is accepted in the international community as a free, democratic and independent nation.

The large majority of the people in Taiwan consider themselves Taiwanese, not Chinese -- in the same way the people in the United States consider themselves Americans and not British anymore, in spite of the fact that they speak English.

The Taiwanese have made it clear over the past years that we want to be accepted in the international community as a free and democratic nation. We emphasize that we wish to live side by side with China as friendly neighbors, but will defend ourselves if necessary to preserve our freedom and independence -- or in Western words with a universal appeal: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Taiwan doesn't want to be on a collision course with China, but it is China which should stop its threats and aggression. Perpetuating the "creative ambiguity" of the One China policy condones China's aggression and fans the flames of Chinese nationalism, endangering peace and stability in East Asia.

It is thus essential to let the Taiwanese decide their own future without interference by China. It is time to "Say YES to Taiwan", and accept our beautiful island, "Ilha Formosa", as a free, democratic and independent member of the international community.

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