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Promoting Cross-Strait Relations : The Conscious Efforts of the Republic of China Government 3. Beijing's Misrepresentations and Our Response

  • Date:1996-07-29

From the above account, it is clear that we have contributed a great deal to the improvement of cross-Strait relations and the promotion of national unification. Yet Beijing has repeatedly leveled the accusation that by emphasizing the division between the two sides, conducting pragmatic diplomacy, and striving for more international "breathing space" and participation in the United Nations we are pursuing "Taiwan independence" or trying to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan," thereby sabotaging the development of relations across the Taiwan Strait. These accusations have been intensified since June 1995 when Beijing attacked President Lee's U.S. trip as "a betrayal of national interests that has sabotaged the great cause of unification." Beijing slandered President Lee, calling him the "headquarters of Taiwan independence" and "the chief source of instability in cross-Strait relations," and accused him of "using direct election [of the president] to split the country." Beijing also launched a series of provocative military exercises that created tension in the Taiwan Strait, and threatened that "as long as the separatist activities of the Taiwan authorities do not cease for even one day, the anti-separatist, anti-independence struggle will not cease either." After the presidential election, they claimed that "certain leaders of the Taiwan authorities were forced to profess opposition to (independence(and support for unification simply to win votes," and they said of us that "their words do not matc h their deeds." In saying this, Beijing is concealing the facts and completely refusing to acknowledge the efforts we have been making for so long. Their slanders and misrepresentations are indeed regrettable. We wish to make the facts clear as follows:

1. President Lee's Enormous Contribution to the Improvement in Cross-Strait Relations

Since late 1987 when the ban on family visits to mainland China was lifted, the government has abrogated the National mobilization period, initiated a new era of peaceful contacts and friendly interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and established the National Unification Council which has drawn up the "Guidelines for National Unification" and established guiding principles for mainland policy. The great majority of these measures have been promoted by President Lee Teng-hui right from the time he took office as president in January 1988. President Lee may really claim credit for developing cross-Strait relations out of nothing at all. President Lee's important speeches on cross-Strait relations reflect only a part of this. In his speech on unification to the National Unification Council on April 8, 1995 (known as "Lee's six points"), the President proposed that the strengthening of cross-Strait relations should be based on Chinese culture, and that "Chinese should help Chinese." He expressed willingness to help mainland China improve its agriculture, to enhance economic and trade contacts, and he mentioned that he was issuing instructions regarding the termination of hostile confrontation by means of negotiation and regarding cross-Strait business and shipping contacts. And over the past year, a succession of liberalizing measures have emerged, including the eight-point agenda for the second round of Koo-Wang talks and the proposed "offshore transshipment center" and the concept of "special tr ade zone" for conducting direct contacts with mainland China. It is a pity that Beijing's negative attitude has made most of these measures impossible to pursue these well-meaning suggestions any further.

In his inaugural address on May 20, 1996, President Lee mentioned the pursuit of national unification on five occasions. He also stressed that it was both unnecessary and impossible for us to adopt the course of "Taiwan independence" and that he hoped the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would dissipate their enmity with peace and tolerance and deal straightforwardly with the momentous question of ending their state of hostility. He said that he would be willing to embark on a journey of peace to mainland Chi na, taking with him the consensus and will of Taiwan's 21.3 million people, in order to open up a new era of communication and cooperation between the two sides; and to secure the peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific area. He also said that he is willing to meet with top leaders of mainland China for a direct exchange of views. We believe that if Beijing will only understand and respond with good will to this expression of the utmost sincerity from President Lee, interaction between the two s ides of the Taiwan Strait will soon experience substantial improvement.

2. The Government's Unwavering Determination to Pursue National Unification

Looking back over the last forty-seven years, one can see that as the ideological struggle between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has eased, we have remained consistent in our pursuit of the goal of national unification. The passing of the "Guidelines for National Unification" by the National Unification Council under the chairmanship of President Lee Teng-hui was an even clearer indication that we wished to use peaceful means to fulfill our mission to unify China. However, we are pursuing something mor e than mere territorial unification and unified control of the country; we further propose that unification should be carried out according to the principles of freedom, democracy, and equitable prosperity, and moreover, we are convinced that only this kind of unification will maintain and enhance the welfare of the people on both sides of the Strait.

Political and economic differences and differences in social systems and basic conditions have created a considerable gap between the two sides of the Strait. The limited achievements the Beijing regime has chalked up during its more than four decades on the mainland are completely incapable of enticing the people of Taiwan to agree to immediate unification. And as for the "one country, two systems" formula, to which Beijing is so stubbornly attached, the Beijing leaders maintain that the "one country" is the "People's Republic of China," which indicates that they want the Republic of China to surrender and the people of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu to subject themselves to Chinese Communist rule. This proposal is objectively unfeasible and we absolutely refuse to accept it. However, Beijing is completely indifferent to the opinions of the people of Taiwan and it plans to force its high-handed proposals on us.

National unification is a long-term task that cannot be achieved at a stroke, but all the same, we will not abandon this long-term goal. We will advance in an orderly fashion according to established policy and the process laid out in the "Guidelines for National Unification," and we will gradually achieve our objective.

3. Joint Participation in International Activities Will Not Hamper Unification

It is a fact that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are in a state of separate rule. In the past, East and West Germany and North and South Vietnam enjoyed equal participation in the internaitonal community, and this is the case with North and South Korea today. Currently mainland China actively participates in international activities and Taiwan naturally has similar needs.

Over the more than four decades since the government transferred to Taiwan, the Republic of China has become the world's fourteenth largest trading nation and its seventh largest foreign investor. We have the world's second largest foreign exchange reserves and an average per capita income of more than US$12,000. In addition to our economic achievements, our people make twice as many trips abroad each year in proportion to the population as our neighbours in Japan and we rank twenty-first in the world in te rms of the number of scholarly papers published internationally. Having reached this level of achievement in so many fields, the Republic of China cannot remain closed off from the rest of the world; we must become part of the international community. This is essential if we are to survive and develop in the course of our pursuit of national unification. Beijing's deliberate attempts to misrepresent our actions as "Taiwan independence" and efforts to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" do not acc ord with reality and are inspired by ulterior motives.

Today, most internaitonal problems are dealt with through the United Nations, and if we continue to be excluded from that organization the proper rights and interests of the 21.3 million people of Taiwan will be violated. This is why we want to reentter the United Nations and why we are persistently working to develop the scope of our international activities. We hope that our existence and development will receive due respect and attention internationally, as only then will we be able to make a greater con tribution to the international community.

Time and again, we have indicated that we have no intention whatsoever of laying claim to Beijing's seat in the United Nations or challenging its rights in that organization. Moreover, if the two sides of the Strait can coexist and thrive together in the international community, if they can render mutual support, and learn from and cooperate with each other, this will definitely be beneficial to future national unification. Proof of this may be sought in the way that East and West Germany's joint participation in the international community did not hamper the course of German reunification.

4. Before Unification, the Two Sides Should Treat Each Other Equally and With Goodwill

There is only one China, but at present it is divided into two areas, Taiwan and the mainland. These are two equal political entities and two separate legal jurisdictions. Relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not relations between two countries and yet they are not purely domestic affairs. That is why, in the explanatory document "Relations across the Taiwan Straits," issued in July 1994, we proposed the concept "one country, two equal political entities" to the international community. This is a reasonable definition that accords with reality, and it is hoped that it will enable the two sides to put aside their political differences over the "sovereignty dispute" and let cross-Strait relations develop toward friendly interaction.

The present phase of cross-Strait relations is rather like that of two families living under the same roof. We have long since ceased claiming to represent the mainland, but the Beijing authorities do not represent us either. Before unification, in order to build a foundation for the development of cross-Strait relations, the two sides should pursue peaceful contacts, treat each other equally and with goodwill, and understand and respect each other. Frequent resort to military threats will only whip up antagonism between the two sides and be detrimental to the development of cross-Strait relations.

There are still plenty of obstacles standing in the way of cross-Strait relations, and the chief of these are Beijing's refusal to face up to the fact that the two sides of the Strait are under separate rule, its adoption of a consistently high-handed attitude toward us, and its unwillingness to give up its threat to launch an armed attack on Taiwan. Security and dignity are the two major premises on which our mainland work is based, but if Taiwan's security comes under threat or if Beijing deliberately tri es to humiliate us, what hope can there be for any substantial progress in exchanges or consultations?

We hope that the Beijing authorities will recognize this fact, and that they will abandon their old mind-set and treat us equally and with goodwill. This will create a new pattern of cross-Strait relations and bring us to a turning point that will be advantageous to national unification in the future.