Apr 21, 2008

Taiwan: Conference Closes On Sovereignty Debate

Sample ImageExperts gathered in Taiwan have intimated that Taipei must cautiously pursue engagement with China or jeopardize the sovereignty already won.

Below is an article written by Jospeh Yeh and published by the Taiwan News:

Taiwan should define its identity and seek a representative voice in international affairs to promote its democratic ideals, a move which would compel foreign countries to face the issue of Taiwan's sovereign status, urged foreign scholars in Taipei yesterday [19 April 2008].

"Taiwan should appeal to sympathy from foreign governments for the fundamental right of free people to have a say on matters affecting their collective future," according to Stephen Yates, former Deputy Assistant to the United States Vice President for National Security Affairs.

If Taiwan comes to be seen as relevant to priorities driving American and other foreign countries' elites and public life, then there will be greater sympathy and awareness of the consequences of Taiwan being treated as a "non-state," said Yates.

Thomas Grant, a senior research fellow of the University of Cambridge's Wolfson College, echoed Yates view, saying that Taiwan should continue to emphasize to the world the nation's democratic values as shown in its internal realm, even though the island state is not recognized by most members of the international community.

"It is hard to define Taiwan in a certain international law category, but the country's accomplishments in democratization should be a great tool that can be used to continue to promote its international status," said Grant.

Both visiting scholars' suggestions were made during a roundtable session in an international conference on Taiwan's sovereignty held in Taipei yesterday [19 April 2008].

They were asked to give advice on how to promote Taiwan's sovereign status in the international arena.

Local scholars including Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) and Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), both famous local political commentators, also joined the roundtable entitled "the Prospect and Future of Taiwan's Sovereign Status" to exchange views with their foreign counterparts.

The moderator of the roundtable, Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who is Deputy Secretary General of Taiwan's Presidential Office, said that Taiwan has qualified as a state as defined in the Montevideo Convention of 1933.

The convention defined a state as an entity with a permanent population, a defined territory, government and capacity to enter into relations with other states, with Taiwan meeting every requirement, Lin noted.

The complicated state of international relations, especially the "One-China policy" held by Beijing, however, has made it difficult for other foreign countries to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.

Meanwhile, other local scholars put their focus on issuing a warning that after Kuomintang President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) takes office on May 20 [2008], the so-called Taiwan identity will be put at risk, which will also bring a bleak outlook to the country's sovereign status.

Lo said that Ma had reiterated several times that he will improve cross-strait relations by opening up the local market within the framework of direct flights between Taiwan and China.

Once it has become a reality that Taiwan will have closer ties with China economically, then the island nation will be heavily reliant on China, which will eventually lead to the sacrifice of Taiwan's sovereignty.

"If Taiwan wants peace with China, it will definitely cost Taiwan its sovereignty," said Lo.