Friday, August 10, 2007

Shaking Off the “One China” Curse is a Must

In the de jure sense, the “one China” framework of the Constitution prevents Taiwan from being a sovereign state and even makes Taiwan a part of China.

According to Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, a "one China" framework exists in the Constitution is his version of President Chen Shui-bian’s “four noes, one without” pledge. It was regrettable but unsurprising that during his trip to the US, Hsieh made his first “no” promise by saying that a referendum on independence is not necessary.
I am unfortunately preparing myself psychologically for the possibility that Hsieh might come out with other “noes” or “withouts” in the future.

During the DPP’s primary debates, when asked whether he would make a promise similar to Chen’s to the US, Hsieh stressed that the US is more concerned with “sincerity.” Hsieh said that he would not promise the US anything, because the results of democracy cannot be controlled.

However, Hsieh has already said, or promised, that a referendum on independence is not necessary. This will become an important standard by which the US judges Hsieh’s “sincerity” in the future.

I am concerned that if our leaders fail to take all factors into account when making promises to the US, then their pledges can become a curse for Taiwan’s foreign relations and domestic political reform.

Who decides what defines an “independence referendum” exactly?

The past seven years have proven that every time Taiwan tries to carry out any reforms or works to normalize itself, Washington always looks at this sort of action in the scope of whether or not Taiwan might violate the “four noes, one without” promise. Sometimes this even leads the US to oppose the reforms. Taiwan has clearly given the US a yardstick with which to set standards for, or even with which to punish, Taiwan.

Even more worrying is that as Beijing pushes the “one China” fantasy on the international community, Hsieh still believes that the “one China” principle is enshrined in the Constitution, while also saying that an independence referendum is not necessary. As a result, under Hsieh, it would be even harder for Taiwan to shake off the curse of “one China.”

Hsieh believes that Taiwan already has de facto statehood. But in the de jure sense, the “one China” framework of the Constitution prevents Taiwan from being a sovereign state and even makes Taiwan a part of China. Even though Hsieh advocates changing the irrational “one China" framework, regardless of whether he tries to change it by amending the Constitution or creating a new one, either would have to be voted on in a referendum.

The problem is, if China sees a referendum to join the UN under the name “Taiwan” as a disguised independence referendum and the US keeps warning that such a referendum would violate Chen’s promise not to change the national title, how could we expect China and the US not to say that trying to take “one China” out of the Constitution was not an independence referendum? If the US did say that the national referendum for such an amendment was an independence referendum, would Hsieh respect his promise to the Taiwanese people and continue to push for the amendment, or would he abide by his promise to the US not to push for an independence referendum?

We hope Hsieh will choose to honor his promise to Taiwanese people first and foremost.

(Excerpts from Taipei Times)

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