Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I recently read this editorial written by William Safire regarding his predictions for 2004 and I just had to write him in response to prediction 3. Here's the email that I wrote to Mr. Safire:

Dear Mr. Safire:

When I read your recent article, What will the new year bring? , I wondered about the words used for prediction 3. "First to fall from power will be (a) Little China's Chen Shui-bian, whose two-China campaign oratory on Taiwan is asking for trouble with Big China."

I assume that the words "little China," were chosen to express your opinion regarding the ambiguous status of that little island off the coast of China. This is a characterization that I deeply disagree with. The "little China" that you refer to has a population of 23 million people, its own currency, passport, military, and judicial system. It has democratically elected its presidents since 1996. Even more to the point, this "little China" has not for one day in its history ever paid any taxes or been governed by the People's Republic of China, and it is not bound by any declaration stating that it is nor will it revert to being the territory of the People's Republic of China.

This little island which recently made such big news is routinely referred to as Taiwan, not a province of China, lesser China, little China nor even the Republic of China (which is Taiwan's official title; a title that is only recognized domestically; elsewhere in the world this label would be perplexing).

I can accept that the words "little China" were used perhaps in jest or as a hyperbole to emphasize a particular point of view. But to describe President Chen Shui-bian as using "two-China campaign oratory" is simply incorrect.

This phrase implies that Taiwan, or more accurately, the Republic of China on Taiwan, is vying with the Chinese Communist Party to rule China. True, this was the ideology held by the Kuo-ming Tang Party when they retreated to Taiwan after being defeated by the Chinese Communist Party in 1947. The Kuo-ming Tang's purpose, even after retreating to Taiwan, was to preserve the Republic of China by destroying the Chinese Communist Party and restoring the Republic of China as the rulers of China. Today's Kuo-ming Tang Party has had to abandon this goal and has now shifted its stance to unification with China.

"Two-China campaign oratory" could also be taken to refer to the one country, two systems model which presently consists of two Chinas: Hong Kong and China. This is an interesting choice of words because China, would want nothing more than talk of two Chinas with respect to Taiwan.

It is not the talk of two Chinas that has provoked the People's Republic of China, but just the opposite; President Chen Shui-bian has stated that Taiwan is a sovereign state and that he intends to carry out referendums and constitutional amendments which will better serve and represent Taiwan's current situation. The question is who will be cast as the provocateur and scapegoat if military conflict ensues?

It is my opinion that President Chen Shui-bian is not "asking for trouble with Big China." His statements affirming that Taiwan is a sovereign independent state that has democratic institutions and his vows to carry through a vote asking China to dismantle missiles aimed at Taiwan are simply meant to safeguard the safety and sovereignty of Taiwan.

I would not have expected someone so renowned for his meticulous use of words to err so completely in his comments about Taiwan's situation.

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