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Taiwan Out of the UN: Unfair to Taiwan and Harmful to Global Interests

Yang Jianli, September 22, 2017

 

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Taiwanese citizens are required to present ID documents issued by Beijing to enter UN buildings. Taiwanese passport is not recognized. 

 

Recently, the long detained Taiwanese citizen and human rights activist Lee Ming-che appeared in a bogus trial in Chinese courts and was forced to plead guilty to “subverting (Chinese) state power”. Outraged family members and Taiwanese supporters might want to come to the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms for help — but they can’t. This is because they, as citizens of Taiwan, are not represented at the world governing body. With pressure from China, even Taiwanese tourists are routinely excluded from visiting the UN Headquarters with Taiwanese passports. Egregious and ridiculous as such is the reality facing us today.

The only thing preventing Taiwan, a full democracy, from taking its rightful seat in the UN is China, and China’s aggressive posture on the international stage with respect to Taiwan. Allies of Taiwan such as the US and like-minded nations must stand up to China’s bullying and intimidation and advocate for Taiwan to rejoin the UN, or at a minimum as the first step, to ensure that Taiwan is able to participate in a meaningful way in UN-affiliated organizations and meetings. Succumbing to pressure from China to exclude Taiwan from UN-related organizations and activities is tantamount to abandoning the beacon of democracy, human rights, and rule of law in Asia, and to depriving the 23 million citizens of democratic Taiwan their fundamental rights to participate in, and receive protections from, the mechanisms of global governance.  This is as unfair to the people of Taiwan as it is harmful to the interests of the world.

Taiwan’s participation in UN mechanisms not only benefits Taiwan, but also the rest of the international community. Taiwan’s absence, from, for example, the World Health Organization, Interpol, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, creates critical gaps in addressing borderless issues, such as the spread of disease, cross-border crime, counterterrorism efforts and global security, climate change, and aviation safety.

  • For the first time since 2009, as a result of pressure from Beijing, Taiwan was not invited to attend the World Health Assembly, the decision making body of the WHO, which met in Geneva this past May. Beijing insisted that Taiwan publicly accept the “one China” principle as a condition for retaining its observer status.

The importance of Taiwan’s involvement in the WHO cannot be overstated. The SARS outbreak in 2003 is a clear example: WHO’s delays in getting Taiwan critical information and timely assistance (because it wasn’t a member of WHO and China said it would assist Taiwan, and didn’t) contributed to the deaths of over 30 Taiwanese citizens. As a leader in health care in Asia, and a global leader in several medical specialties, Taiwan also has much to contribute to the international community.

  • Also in May, the Chinese delegation to a UN-affiliated conference called the Kimberley Process, which seeks to control the trade in conflict or “blood” diamonds, caused such a raucous scene at the meeting in Australia protesting the presence of delegates from Taiwan that the Taiwanese delegation was eventually asked to leave, even though Taiwan had received a formal invitation.
  • Similarly, due to Chinese pressure, Taiwan continues to be excluded from Interpol, which hampers international efforts to fight cross-border crime and terrorism. In November 2016, Interpol rejected Taiwanese participation in its general assembly.
  • Taiwan unsuccessfully sought observer status with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN-affiliated organization. While the ICAO invited Taiwan to attend as an observer in 2013, an invitation from the organization to Taiwan was not forthcoming for its meeting in Montreal in September 2016.  Given Taiwan’s bustling airports, economy, and the growing number of tourists (many of whom are from China), the absence of Taiwan from a key air safety regulatory body poses serious concerns for aviation safety.

China’s relentless and increasingly aggressive tactics to exclude Taiwan from global regulatory bodies has only harmful consequences. Absolutely no benefit comes from Taiwan’s exclusion; China’s political machinations are cynical and detrimental to global interests.

And China’s conduct contravenes the spirit and purpose of the United Nations, which includes:  “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” and “to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all….” UN Charter, Article 1

Taiwan has consistently acted as a responsible member of the international community. To name just a few examples: it was one of the few countries to voluntarily announce targets for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and Taiwan voluntarily adopted the two key UN human rights treaties (the ICCPR and ICESCR), incorporated their provisions into Taiwan’s domestic law, and devised its own innovative review process, since it cannot participate in the review process of the UN human rights treaty bodies.

Taiwan has much to contribute to world order, and the UN should open its doors to the vibrant democracy of 23 million people. The world needs Taiwan’s involvement and contributions, and Taiwan’s rights and interests must be protected.

 

 

Yang Jianli is the president of Initiatives for China. Follow him on Twitter @yangjianli001

 

 


Also by Yang Jianli:

Remembering Liu Xiaobo — And What the U. S. Can Do, Yang Jianli, July 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

‘I have decided to travel to Beijing, find out what is going on, and rescue my husband’: A Statement by Wife of Taiwanese NGO Worker Lee Ming-che

March 31, 2017

Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Lee Ming-che disappeared on March 19 after clearing immigration in Macau. China has confirmed that Lee is being investigated on suspicion of ‘pursuing activity harmful to national security.’ This is an unauthorized translation of his wife’s statement. — The Editors

 

Lee Ming-che, wife's statementLee Ching-yu’s Press Release:

I’ve been a historian of Taiwan’s period of political violence, the “White Terror,” for many years. Now that my own my loved one is detained, terror grips my heart. I’ve tried so hard to calm myself, to carefully compose my thoughts. I know from the history of the White Terror in Taiwan that when a country’s system of rule of law hasn’t risen to international standards, all attempts to offer defenses according to the law are useless. We can only offer a defense of humanity and human rights — but the legal systems in such countries aren’t built upon universal conceptions of human rights.

It’s for this reason that I make this considered announcement: I am not going to hire a lawyer and thus engage in pointless legal wrangling.

All human rights workers, all those who bring hope to corners of the world that need human rights upheld, are innocent. It is precisely through the contributions of such individuals that human welfare and civilization grows.

My husband acted selflessly and with love for mankind, and I am full of confidence that everything he has done is worthy of the utmost respect.

I’ve decided to travel to Beijing, find out what is going on, and rescue my husband.

 

Lee Ming-che’s wife, Lee Ching-yu

March 31, 2017

 

 

 

The ‘1992 Consensus’: Rather Than Asking Tsai Ing-wen, Ask Xi Jinping Instead

By Hu Ping, published: January 24, 2016

The “1992 consensus,” the outcome of a meeting between representatives of the Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), refers to the putative agreement that there is only “one China,” but that each side is able to interpret the meaning of that one China differently. For the KMT, this means that the Republic of China represents the only “one China,” whereas for the CCP, it means that the People’s Republic of China is the sole representative of the “one China.” The status of the agreement, or even its existence, has been controversial. — The Editors.

"Change of administration in Taiwan hurts the feelings of the Chinese people." Cartoon by @thomasycwong

“Change of government in Taiwan hurts the feelings of the Chinese people.” Cartoon by @thomasycwong

 

In May 2004 in the overseas Chinese-language magazine “Beijing Spring”(《北京之春》)  I published an essay titled “Looking at Taiwan’s plight from Taiwan’s perspective,” in which I made the following comment:

By the same principle, the so-called 1992 Consensus—that is, “one China,” each with their respective interpretations—is also not helpful for Taiwan. This is because Taiwan’s “one China” interpretation can only have the effect of Taiwan talking to itself, and shutting itself off to the world. The international community won’t accept its interpretation of one China. Moreover, to the extent that Taiwan doesn’t want to isolate itself from the international community, and wants to actively participate in international organizations and activities, it must tacitly acknowledge that the People’s Republic of China, and not the Republic of China, occupies the space of China in international events. Thus, it has no choice but to de facto (in global for a) abandon its own version of the “one China.”

Perhaps at the beginning Taiwan wasn’t clear on what the CCP’s own “one China” meant when it agreed to the consensus. Taiwan may have thought that it simply means that each side does not directly acknowledge the other, but not that each can deliberately undermine, suppress, and attack the other in the presence of third parties and in international fora. (In the overseas Chinese community, this was called the “twin problem,” where each sibling says they’re the real one, and the other is fake. When community activities were organized around the world, the organizers were never clear which was the real and which the fake China, and they didn’t want to get dragged into the dispute. So they simply invited them both. Both sides attend, acknowledge that the other has attended, but refrain from going and pressuring the host to eject the other party.)

But who knew that the CCP’s version of the one China policy is that the CCP, on every possible occasion, does all it can to reject, suppress, and ruthlessly eliminate Taiwan’s presence. Taiwan obviously cannot accept this.

This is the problem right here. If the mainland’s understanding of the 1992 consensus is that it not only doesn’t recognize Taiwan, but also in international fora deliberately tries to suppress and negate Taiwan, then of course Taiwan won’t accept it. Who would accept a so-called “consensus” in which they are agreeing to being willfully negated and attacked? The pan-Green coalition couldn’t accept it, and the pan-Blue coalition also couldn’t accept it.

In March of 2006, when then-chairman of the KMT, Ma Ying-jeou, visited the United States, he spoke on the question of Taiwanese independence. Taiwan needs to gain more recognition in international diplomacy, he said, but if the CCP doesn’t allow even this, it will force Taiwanese people to the other side—and not even those originally concerned with Taiwanese independence. “Even people like us will oppose it. It’s got nothing to do with independence or not—but you won’t even give us a bit of breathing space!”

So, given that Taiwanese can’t accept a consensus which marginalizes and suppresses them, this is why the two sides cannot have a consensus. This is why the 1992 consensus just cannot exist.

If the 1992 consensus truly does exist, then it could only be on the basis of mutual respect and equality between the two sides. In this case, while each side would not directly recognize the other, they would not try to suppress and marginalize the other in the international community. Taiwan naturally sees it this way, but the question is whether the mainland agrees. The problem isn’t with Taiwan, but with the mainland.

Rather than asking Tsai Ing-wen whether she recognizes the 1992 consensus, we are better off first asking Xi Jinping just what he believes the 1992 consensus means. If Xi Jinping’s understanding of the 1992 consensus includes not marginalizing and suppressing Taiwan in the international community, then I think Tsai Ing-wen would also accept that consensus; if Xi Jinping’s understanding is that the 1992 consensus means that the mainland can marginalize and suppress Taiwan in the international community, then I think we’ve no need to ask Tsai Ing-wen in the first place.
Hu Ping (胡平) had been for years the chief editor of Beijing Spring, a long-running New York-based Chinese democracy magazine, until his retirement in  Mr. Hu has been one of the best known Chinese liberal thinkers and commentators since early 1980s, and his essay On Freedom of Expression influenced many intellectuals and students in China in the 80s when he was a graduate student of philosophy at Peking University.

 

Related articles

Now You Know the Terror, by Martin Oei, January 17, 2016. 

Chiang Ching-kuo and the Democratization of Taiwan, by Chang Tieh Chi, June 3, 2013. 

 

Also by Hu Ping:

How the Tiananmen Massacre Changed China, and the World, June 2, 2015

 

中文原文與其問蔡英文,不如問習近平-九二共識之我見》,translated by China Change.

 

 

Service Trade Pact Is Not a Problem If with a Country Other Than China

By Lu Chiou-yuan, published: March 23, 2014

 

In Taiwan, a large-scale student protest against a trade pact (CSSTA) with China has escalated. Local time Sunday night and Monday morning, riot police drove out students who had occupied the Executive Yuan (video), injuring scores. With a translation of this short essay by a Taiwanese lawyer, we wish to afford our readers a glimpse at the Taiwaneses’ deep-seated fear and why they are on the streets now protesting against the pact (NYTimes) that the Kuomingtang government has been pushing forcefully. – The Editor

 

Taiwan protest scene, Monday 3 am outside the Executive Yuan. Photo via  @austinramzy on Twitter.

Taiwan protest scene, Monday 3 am outside the Executive Yuan. Photo via @austinramzy on Twitter.

The truth is, many people don’t know much about the content of the service sectors trade pact with China, so they don’t know why people are opposing it. People no longer read about arguments online in support of the pact,  nor would anyone dare to write more to advocate it. After all, it has become what political communication theory calls the Spiral of Silence. Whoever supports the pact is seen as betraying Taiwan and an idiot who will destroy his or her own employment prospects. But of course, there are also those who would ask: Does Ma Ying-jeou really dare to sell out Taiwan in broad daylight? Why does Ma Ying-jeou insists on signing a trade pact that is condemned all around?

Simply put, the pact opens up mutual investment in service sectors between China and Taiwan. With the pact, the Taiwanese will be able to invest in more service sectors and establish operations in sectors such as hospitals, publishing, tutoring industry, banking and more. In return, China can also invest in similar sectors in Taiwan. For Taiwanese capitalists, the benefits no doubt overweigh the drawbacks. But for average Taiwanese, if they don’t mind that their top bosses are from China, there will be more employment opportunities. After all, when money pours in, jobs do too.

Therefore, the service sectors trade pact is a good pact and mutually beneficial to China and Taiwan, right?

Let me reiterate: for those Taiwanese who want to invest in China, the pact offers big benefits . Meanwhile, it’s not bad either to want to have abundant Chinese money invested in Taiwan, to buy our corporations and to create jobs, not to mention that China would open more to Taiwan than otherwise. So what we have is an unequal pact, unfair to China and generous to Taiwan. The article-by-article review requested by many really isn’t that meaningful at all, because each article is a part of the whole, and how can we pick only those we like and keep mum about the fact that they are opening up to us?

So we should support such a pact?

This is a difficult question to answer. But let’s try: how about we replace China with Japan or the US? For example, we passed the FTA with New Zealand without the public condemning it. But with this pact, why is the public so repulsed and unyielding?

Because, China, I am afraid of you. Really, I’m am so afraid.

Honestly, Taiwan will have no problem with passing a similar pact with a country other than China. Suppose Japan opens up to Taiwanese investment [in these sectors], Japan invests in Taiwan, filling our streets with Japanese, I for one, as a pro-Japan Taiwanese, will feel wonderful. But unless we are a territory, or a colony, of Japan, the Japanese will hold their ground without giving in one inch when negotiating with us, insisting on fairness and mutual benefits.

But, as someone pointed out, the pact with China is perplexing in that China gives so much more to Taiwan than Taiwan gives to China. There is no free lunch in the world. From the point of view of economics, why is China giving up so much and letting Taiwan gain so much?

Children, because of love of course. China loves you, and hopes to take you back to the motherland sooner than later. And to take you back, China of course must first of all control Taiwan’s economic lifelines.

If one day, half of 7-Eleven and FamilyMart (小七 and 全家, two convenient store chains in TW) become Chinese investments, Pxmart and Wellcome (全聯 and 頂好, two supermarket chains in TW) are sold to mainland Chinese, and Taiwan Taxi (台灣大車隊, a taxi company) is renamed China Taxi; if in the future, when you go to the bank, your financial records will be sent to headquarters in Beijing; if Cathay General Hospital and Chang Gung Hospital (國泰醫院 and長庚醫院) are renamed China Cathay General Hospital and China Chang Gung Hospital respectively, and the hospital and its departments are all headed by people sent from China, can we accept that?

Realistically, the Taiwanese corporations that are capable of investing in China’s banking, hospitals, printing and taxi industries have to be big conglomerates, so the money will be made only by the Cais, Wangs, Guos (Taiwanese tycoons), not you and me.

For Chinese corporations to invest in Taiwan, the capital needed is like one hair to a cow, and these Chinese corporations are deeply tied to China’s political system. If one of these days, when Taiwan wants to hold a referendum [on independence], and 7-Eleven announces a suspension of its operations, China Taxi decides not to run the taxies, our credit card records and medical records are all in the headquarters in Beijing, China, will we be able to hold the referendum or not, I ask?

Don’t tell me this will not happen. Look at Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明)’s Want Want Group, look at how it has changed the China Times (《中國時報》) founded by Mr. Yu? I would say, these days the People’s Daily is probably a more interesting read than Want Want’s Want China Times.

The Chinese former leader Deng Xiaoping and the US president Ronald Reagan once talked about the freedom of movement. Reagan complained about the Chinese’s lack of freedom to travel abroad. Deng Xiaoping said offhandedly, no problem, we can send 1 billion Chinese to the US for sightseeing and to enjoy freedom. Reagan didn’t bring up the topic again.

Investment with free capital flow is the best thing that a service trade pact can bring us, but just not with China that tries to encroach on Taiwan through commerce.

I would be very happy to accept such a trade pact with a democratized China that treats Taiwan equally without attempting to annex us. Capital flows into Taiwanese industries and revitalizes our economy, high-quality Chinese managers come to Taiwan to live and consume, while our capitalists invest in a democratic China where they make money as an equal in a society with rule of law and bring their money back to Taiwan, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

But please tell me, the nation, what do we do if China one day announces the withdrawal of all the investment? What do we do if China foregoes the agreement and terminates Taiwanese businesses’ favored status in the name of the anti-secession law?

What do we do when Taiwanese investment in China is like a clay-made ox disappearing into a sea while Chinese investment in Taiwan is like thunder and storms raining down? What do we do when these things happen that won’t happen if the pact were with a democratic country?

One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed.

Would  you like to be subdued? I wouldn’t. I’m very afraid, because I know I will have to embrace tears.

 

Lu Chiou-yuan (呂秋遠)  is an executive partner at the Universal Master Law Office (宇達經貿法律事務所) in Taiwan that specializes in commerce.

 

Related:

Tycoon prods Taiwan closer to China, Washington Post

The Tea Leaf Nation translated an excerpt of the same article.

 

(Translation by China Change)

Chinese original

Chiang Chang-kuo and the Democratization of Taiwan

By Chang Tieh Chi

A rebuttal to some Mainlanders’ tendency to romanticize Chiang Ching-kuo in the discussion of Taiwan’s transition to a democracy in late 1980s. Chang Tieh Chi (張鐵) is a Taiwanese commentator on politics and music and authors of multiple books. He’s currently the editor-in-chief of City Magazine in Hong Kong.  

Chang Tieh Chi

Chang Tieh Chi

Perhaps out of disappointment in their own society and expectations for change, in mainland China, Chiang Chang-kuo (蒋经国) has been adored by many for his contribution to Taiwan’s democratization. Opinion pieces on the subject tend to ignore his suppression of the democratic movement in mid 1980s. Or even when they do acknowledge his authoritarian rule, they still believe he made great decisions in the mid- 1980s out of a “sudden” epiphany of conscience.

Mr. Shu Tong’s recent article “The Quiet Start in the Late years of Chiang Chang-kuo” in The Economic Observer (经济观察报) is more or less such an example of understanding Chiang Chang-kuo and Taiwan’s “quiet revolution.” But regrettably, it left out the historical context.

The author marks the beginning of the “quiet revolution” as the time  Chiang declared the end of martial law in 1987 and lifted the ban on political parties and restrictions on the press in 1988. This is, I would say, a mischaracterization. Originally, “quiet revolution” meant that Taiwan’s entire democratization didn’t involve violence and blood-shed in comparison to political transformations elsewhere, with only few exceptions such as the “Wang Sing-nan bombing case” (王幸男炸弹案) and “the murder of the Lins” (林宅血案). Such quietness is a result of self-restrain on the part of the rulers and also on the part of the resistance. Therefore, the “quiet revolution” must be seen as a much longer process not started single handedly by Chiang Ching-kuo.

Mr. Shu’s article poses the right question, that is, “did Chiang Ching-kuo take the initiative to reform or did he have no choice?” But, the ensuing discussion hardly touches on the democratic movement since the 1970s and the pressure it put on the Kuomingtang regime. Therefore, the article reaches the conclusion that, for Chiang Ching-kuo, the easiest option was to maintain martial law. Instead, he made the hardest choice—he chose to bid goodbye to the old system.

During an exclusive interview with Mrs. Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, Chiang Ching-kuo revealed that Taiwan would lift martial law.

During an exclusive interview with Mrs. Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, Chiang Ching-kuo revealed that Taiwan would lift martial law.

But the facts speak otherwise. When Chiang Ching-kuo decided to implement political reforms in 1986, he was making the most reasonable, least costly choice. In the parlance of political science, authoritarian rulers would weigh “the cost of a crackdown” and “the cost of tolerance” when faced with pressure for reform from the people. Once the pressure for political reform has reached a point when rulers cannot ignore it anymore and when suppression does not help to maintain power, or in other words, when the cost of tolerance is smaller than the cost of a crackdown, rulers will likely tolerate the opposition, give up cracking down, and implement reform to prolong their regime. This was precisely the situation in Taiwan in the mid and late 1980s.

Let’s take a look at the history.

To analyze the Chiang Ching-kuo’s political reform in mid-1980s, we must first of all talk about the Kao-Hsion Incident (also known as Formosa Incident) in 1979, in which the KMT regime arrested many of the elites in the democratic movement and tried eight of them in military court. Obviously this was Chiang Ching-kuo’s attempt to stamp out the growing democratic movement against the KMT.

What the regime did not expect, however, was that the Kao-Hsion Incident didn’t succeed in silencing voices of opposition rising since the 1970s. Entering the 1980s, more social forces and dissenting voices began to erupt. First of all, in the central supplementary election of public representatives held at the end of 1980, the non-KMT forces scored victories by capturing 30% of the vote with their overall rate of support higher than in the 1970s. In particular, a few of the family members of the political prisoners became candidates with the platform of “fighting for justice” and were all elected with high vote counts. The following year, several defense lawyers in the Kao-Hsion trial, such as Chen Shui-bian (陈水扁), Hsieh Chang-ting (谢长廷) and Su Tseng-chang (苏贞昌), were elected with broad support. Though the “Formosa generation” had been imprisoned, the “lawyer generation” and more young people joined the democratic movement. That means the non-KMT forces had restructured themselves, taken off, and had 30% public support behind them. The KMT could no longer ignore them.

Incidentally, the democratic movement had become more and more organized. In September, 1982, it once again put forward a joint campaign platform; in 1983, different groups in the movement established “Non-KMT Public Policy Association” and “Association of Non-KMT Editors and Writers.” In 1983, the two organizations took 29.3% of the vote in the legislative election, more than the 27.9% in 1980. In 1985, the two organizations formed a united “Support League for Non-KMT Candidates in the 1985 Election.” This was already the harbinger of the official establishment of a political party in September, 1986.

During the 1980s, Taiwan had also seen the emergence of more non-KMT magazines. These publications reported political scandals and social injustice, and were frequently shut down for their sharp criticism of the government. But there were always new publications coming to the fore.

With the expanded political space, the 1980s also saw the emergence of social movements and street protests, and from 1983 onward, their numbers began to skyrocket. The causes included environment, labor, consumer rights, aboriginal rights, the student movement, etc. According to statistics, there had been about 3,000 street protests from 1983 to 1986.

While the pressure from the people ratcheted up, the KMT’s party apparatus began to break down. First, entering 1980s, Chiang Ching-kuo’s health began to deteriorate. Second, crises plagued the regime one after another. For example, the “Chiang Nan case” in 1984 upset the US, which pressured the KMT government. Then there was the “No. 10 Credit Union case” that led to the resignation of the economic minister. Meanwhile, Chiang Ching-kuo’s health kept worsening.

Equally important was the pressure the US had applied on the KMT. Even though ROC and the US ended their diplomatic relationship in 1978, the KMT regime still needed political support from the US. In mainland China, the 1980s was an era of opening up and reform, that put the KMT regime under pressure to change in order to support Taiwan’s international image as the “Free China.”

Unlike other senior KMT leaders, such as Huang Shao-Ku (黄少谷), Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦) and conservatives in the military, Chiang Ching-kuo was not among the most conservative forces within KMT. Instead, he hoped to keep the KMT in power by making small reforms. For example, in the early 1970s when he recognized that the regime was facing a crisis, he began to promote native Taiwanese elites as well as to push for supplementary elections of “central public representatives” to gain new legitimacy for the regime. But these measures fell short of expectations, as the Kao-Hsion Incident demonstrated. When demand for democratization grew stronger and stronger over the course of the 1980s, he began to realize that he must implement greater reforms to maintain the life of the regime.

During the 3rd plenary session of the 12th Central Committee in 1986, the KMT made the decision to tolerate other political parties. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP,民进党) was formed later in the same year. Half an hour after the DPP announced its establishment in the Grand Hotel in Taipei, police headquarters submitted to Chiang Chang-kuo a list of names for arrest, and Chiang answered, “Arresting people won’t solve the problem.” That year he proclaimed “I too am Taiwanese.” The following year he lifted martial law that had lasted for nearly 40 years and implemented some liberal reforms. But to make sure the KMT stayed in power, he did not increase the number of seats in parliament open to election.

We can say that, Chiang Ching-kuo was a wise ruler who, in the face of democratic pressure, decided not to do something against the tide. This is an important difference between him and other dictators.

I understand that some mainland authors romanticize Chiang Ching-kuo out of a desire for a similar leader in China. However, when doing so, they are not analyzing Taiwanese history for its own sake. They will be waiting for reform in vain if they don’t understand the real reasons why some rulers choose to reform.

Chinese original

You might be right, but you’re wrong with that tone of voice

Now, I generally know better than to go sticking my neck out on issues like this, but I actually agree that China should be in control of the Diaoyu islands. The problem is that I was tempted to side with the Japanese after witnessing the disgusting display of mindless nationalism over the weekend (which in some cases included calls for wiping out all Japanese, and seemed to be state-sponsored).

Hidden behind the calls for boycotts and sanctions, and the embarrassing claim based on the policy of “first come, first serve,” (which can be found in legal texts between “Dibs” and “Finders keepers”) makes it seem like this entire issue is nothing more than a ploy to drum up support for the Party. Or, that perhaps the islands really do belong to Japan, since the Chinese papers keep referring to them as having been “stolen” and that the Japanese gov’t “buying” them from the owners is “illegal,” which make China’s current assertions seem dubious.

However, People’s Daily does have a very calm explanation of China’s claims over the islands, but they last stated the rational case in 2010.

In January 1895, three months before the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed between Japan and China, after the latter was defeated in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, Japan illegally took over the Diaoyu Islands and included them in its Okinawa Prefecture. It cannot be denied that the Diaoyu Islands were ceded to Japan as subsidiary islands of Taiwan in 1895 after the Treaty was signed.

However, in December 1943, leaders of the United States, Britain and China signed the Cairo Declaration, declaring that all the territories that Japan had seized from China should be returned. The Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the United States and Britain in July 1945 (later adhered to by the Soviet Union) stipulated that: “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out”.

In August 1945, Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendered unconditionally, which means both documents came into effect.

After World War II ended, China took back its territories stolen by Japan, including Taiwan Island and its subsidiary islands. Therefore as part of the Taiwan Islands, the Diaoyu Islands were returned to China under international law.

However, in September 1951, Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty with the US and other allied powers, and single-handedly surrendered the Diaoyu Islands, along with Okinawa, to the administration of Washington.

In response, Zhou Enlai, the then premier and foreign minister of China, sternly declared that a San Francisco treaty signed without the People’s Republic of China’s participation is unlawful and illegitimate.

In June 1971, Washington and Tokyo signed the “Okinawa Reversion Agreement,” parceling up the “administrative rights” of Diaoyu Islands to Japan.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in response issued a statement in December later that year, which said “the agreement is a blatant infringement on China’s territorial sovereignty that is intolerable for the Chinese people. The US and Japan list China’s Diaoyu and other islands into the agreement’s ‘reversion area’ is completely unlawful. It cannot change the People’s Republic of China’s sovereignty right on those islands.”

Unfortunately, People’s Daily, Global Times, and seemingly every other newspaper (but Caixin, which toed the line), has lost their ability to reason coolly this time around, and are now in the process of trying to contain the firestorm they have ignited.

The current banner of People’s Daily, which doesn’t seem to be promoting a peaceful solution

So why is it that the Party has a fairly reasonable claim that could be argued to the international crowd, and yet they seem to prefer throwing eggs and running military drills to practice capturing islands? Perhaps, the Party isn’t trying to win any of the foreign countries over to their side, if they were the protests would involve a lot less profanity and genocide, and a touch more English. Instead they are simply interested in winning over their own people – even if it means losing the bigger battle over the islands.