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Response to Scrapping of NUC Not All Negative
President Chen Shui-bian's scrapping of the National Unification Council (NUC) and its guidelines has generated a variety of reactions in the international community. At first glance, it seems that there are more negative responses than positive ones. But, if we take a closer look, we will discover that this is actually not the case.
The so-called "negative" reactions stem not from the decision itself, but from the international community's concern that China may react in an "unreasonable manner" and endanger world peace. Such concern has been most evident in the U.S., Europe and other Western nations.
The reports by the quasi- official Voice of America (VOA), which misquoted Taiwanese officials on the issue, added to the misunderstanding and further complicated the problem. This highlights the need for better negotiations between Taiwan and Western nations to sort out contradictions based on their common, strategic benefits.
Even though the negotiations cannot be held based on the principle of equality given Taiwan's unique position in the international community, they should be carried out based on the principle of mutual respect.
But what clearly needs to be sorted out here is that Taiwan is not what China calls a "troublemaker;" instead, it is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that is causing the trouble.
Let us put aside China's incessant opposition to any political or economic ideas expressed by democratic nations and restrict ourselves to looking at cross-strait relations. Taiwan's abolition of the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion in 1990 in practice marked the end of cross-strait hostilities.
Nevertheless, China continues to resort to military threats to achieve its goal of unification. Shouldn't the Taiwanese take action to oppose China's behavior? What Taiwan is doing is simply using peaceful means to preserve its sovereignty. If Taiwanese are denied this right, then what does the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights stand for?
Apart from the West, some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have not been particularly "friendly" to Taiwan owing to pressure from China. Russia has been the most vocal in opposing Taiwan. Its foreign ministry recently issued a statement saying that "the decision made by Taiwanese leaders [to terminate the council] is not conducive to regional peace and stability."
What is interesting is that it is Russia's arms sales to China that have prompted the Beijing government to expand the scale of its military drills in recent years. What's more, both Russia and China launched a joint military exercise last year in response to the joint U.S.-Taiwan and U.S.-Japan military drills. It takes a lot of effrontery on Russia's part to now accuse Taiwan of jeopardizing peace in the region.
The negative response notwithstanding, Taiwan has made itself heard in the international community because of this controversy. Quite a number of international media outlets such as the New York Times have had extensive coverage of the incident. Although U.S.-Taiwan relations appeared tense for a period, there are also indications that the issue relating to Taiwan's sovereignty can no longer be ignored and suppressed. It is also necessary for both the US and China to review their Taiwan policies, which have been so disrespectful of Taiwanese public opinion in the past.
In China, some Web surfers have even asked why -- if the council and its guidelines were so important -- no one had mentioned them before. Clearly, more and more Chinese are able to see through how Beijing manipulates the issue relating to independence and unification.
Paul Lin is a New York-based political commentator.
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