|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Friday, 24 March, 2000, 16:38 GMT
Election 2000: What future for Taiwan?
Taiwan's presidential election marks the end of a bitterly fought campaign with crucial implications for the island's future and its tense relations with China.
The elections were overshadowed by China's warning to Taiwan that it would take firm action if voters backed a pro-independence candidate. In the event, Chen Shui-bian did emerge victorious but in the final run-up to the poll he took a more conciliatory line twoards independence.
Taiwan financial markets plunged as fears grew that the country's relationship with China could worsen after the election.
Should Taiwan pursue independence at any cost? Could a compromise between the two sides ever be reached? What do you think the future holds for Taiwan?
Everyone in Taiwan has his right to
decide the future of Taiwan. We
are not only protecting the existing system
but also defending our own democracy.
Taiwan is the Republic of China, and is a province of China. Mainland China is the People's Republic of China and also believes Taiwan is a province. Independence is a denial of everything Taiwan stands for. Unfortunately, China is culturally and historically unlikely ever to be a democracy as we understand it because the Chinese like strong central government. This means stability and peace. Democracy would threaten the break up of China. Taiwan knows this because when the Nationalists were in power in the 1920's and 30's they couldn't hold China together. Perhaps they could all unite under a restored Imperial dynasty, constitutional as in Japan. Stranger things have happened recently.
Peter James, England
I trust that many mainlanders do not care who's Taiwan's next president. People on the mainland have realised that money and economy are of utter importance. Political and emotional feelings are luxuries that ordinary people cannot afford. They may not call themselves Chinese any longer but sadly they will be generally regarded as Chinese anywhere in the world and this may have to last for at least another 50 years or even more, perhaps for ever. Singapore has long been an independent country but I don't think they can ever deny their ancestral relationship with China. Only if China is not as poor as today, only if the speed of China's development could be faster.
Let Taiwan have what they want and back them to the hilt. Everyone has a right to independence and if somebody is stopping them then we should not stand by and let oppression rule again. I am sick of super powers being able to do what they want. It is the 21st Century and China should grow up.
Barry Weaver, UK
To JC from the UK, Germans united when East Germany changed from a police state to a democracy, and there was a referendum in both parts of Germany. There is no hidden agenda, only an open one - China has threatened to declare war on Taiwan if they even hold a referendum on the subject, Taiwan won't re-unite without one
China is as passionate about the reunification of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan with the mainland, as it is silent about the annexation and repression of Tibet, Xinjang, Inner Mongolia, and other minorities.
In truth, one can not be separated from the other, but it is. Anger at my words should really be shame, but it is not. For you are a Chinese nationalist, blinded, and your morals dulled, but the truth is not. Wake up.
A divided Chinese people is a weakened one, I am for a united China. Mr. Chen has 39% of the vote, not exactly a mandate. Many voted for changes from the corrupted KMT, not independence. If he is a true democrat then put the issue through a referendum and not decided by his minority party. Sure I want China to modernise and become more democratic, but it'll take time. Both sides should now back off and chill out, before they box themselves into a corner and someone reaches out and presses the button. And if the Germans could reunite, why can't the Chinese. Why is there a hidden agenda?
Taiwan is a legitimate independent Chinese nation.
The PRC is a domineering tyrannical nation that
wants to subdue all inharmonious voices.
The moment of choice is upon the world, choose
commerce with a tyrant, or choose to support
the only democratic Chinese nation. The people
of Taiwan are apparently choosing to strengthen their
democratic society in spite of increasing pressure from
Beijing, will the Democratic world stand by Taiwan in it's
moment of need, or betray them?
The Taiwanese people should never give up on fighting for independence, and the international community should stand by them! China is a Communist totalitarian state with a poor human rights record. They should not be allowed to join the WTO until civil liberties are returned to the Chinese people and that Taiwan is offered independence!
This is the beginning for Taiwan to develop
democracy. Every citizen in this island should accept the result of the presidential election.
Taiwan has to be reunited
with CHINA. The new entity might not
necessarily called PRC. The fact is
that in this world might is right. Bear
in mind 95% of a recent poll in China
shows that people urge the government
to launch a war now. To be fair, a war
would have already started had it
not been under this government which
many Chinese reckon "too soft".
My prayers are that Taiwan will be permitted to decide its own fate. If it chooses democracy, then it is the responsibility of every free nation on earth to come to its aid against the Mainland Aggressors. Those who would say the freedom and liberty are not worth the price we pay in blood, have never lived in bondage.
Long live the free and democratic Republic of Taiwan!
The Taiwanese people deserve a pat on the back for voting their minds and not being intimidated by China. China should respect that decision and instead of warnings and finger pointing, should use a more conciliatory approach to Taiwan and perhaps forge an alliance first before demanding unification. Taiwan has adopted democracy for the past 50 years and has grown to become one of the top 5 economies in the world and they deserve to maintain that status quo. Any war between the two nations will not only bring chaos to East Asia but to the rest of the world as well.
Harry Chia, Singapore
Taiwan has demonstrated to people around the world, two valuable lessons. One, with dedicated hard work, you can succeed economically, and two with carefully planned leadership, you can accomplish "bloodless revolution". I believe many countries on the earth today may be interested to study the "Taiwan Case" for their own benefits.
The best thing for now is to maintain status quo. It is not that the Taiwanese reject their Chinese heritage or the Chinese in mainland. The major problem is the government in the mainland. While there is no exercise of democracy there should be no unification.
In the recent elections in Taiwan, the best reflection of the spirit of democracy and liberty of expression was the TV programmes that lampooned all the candidates. Conversely, if it were in Mainland China, would such program ever be aired? Would the actors of such program be roaming free? Giving up liberty of expression and democracy is too high a price to pay for unification. I believe that in a couple of years mainland China will be more liberal. Then, we can think about reunification.
There are never such thing like democracy and freedom in this world. The only thing concerns most countries is interest. If it is not for USA's interest, why USA still stay in the Chinese civil war.
China is a country ruled by one party, by a few people who decide what's best for them and then what's best for the rest. China's citizens are not free, they don't know what they can be. China's citizens can be arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and killed for expressing their rights. Taiwan does know what it wants because they are free Chinese. When China decides to join Taiwan as a great democracy, is when Taiwan may wish to join with China. The free nations of the world know in their hearts that when the Chinese are free, when the Tibetans and other peoples are free, can China truly reach her potential as a great nation, anything else falls short.
There is the fundamental question: Why do Taiwanese want to be independent? In my view, they have developed economy and current democracy even though they have the same language and culture as mainland China. In other words, because they get more rich and free, they want to separate from their brother and sister and to deny their ancestry . In the world, I am sure, reuniting Chinese will be apparently stronger than a dissociated Chinese.
What do the Taiwanese have to gain from this so-called independence? The duty of a government is to ensure the safety and rights of its citizens not to bring disaster to the people.
Taiwan should realise that reunification does not mean the end of their independence. They will still have their autonomy. It is the rule of "one country two systems".
In the end, money rules the world, and if China were to prohibit doing business with Taiwan, all the governments would toe the line. But I would hope that integrity would rule over stockmarkets and that Europe, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the USA, would stand-up to China's aggression on behalf of our democratic friend, Taiwan, and officially recognise them as an independent nation.
I read with sadness many of the comments made by writers who contributed to this Talking Point. Many still harbour misgivings over China, and view it with deep mistrust. For China to be what it is today, credit must certainly be given to Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. China today would have been fragmented if it wasn't for Mao and Deng. Already, Tibetans, who for centuries regarded themselves as part of China, have expressed the wish to be independent.
Mo Yusheng, Australia
Over 60% of voters on Taiwan did not support Mr Chen. Does that tell you something? Minority rules again! Those who advocate Taiwan's independence do not speak for all. Mr Chen has to prove that he can unify and not divide people on Taiwan. A lot of people romaticize western-style "democracy". Be cautious!
A Taiwanese to Chinese: You should learn from the Taiwanese. You should act to free your own people. Start democracy, elect your own president and government. Then we can talk unification. Then it will be peaceful if that's what the two peoples want.
The current impasse between China and Taiwan is like a family quarrel. Whose side should we choose? Allied with your father against your mother, or vice-versa? In any family quarrel, the most destructive approach is to take sides and be part of the problem rather than contributing to the solution. The outcome of the current crisis concerns me very much - I am Chinese and fear for both countries. To talk of war is both frightening and destructive in any form or shape and would play right into the hands of the American and their allies, who would love nothing more than to see the Chinese people destroy themselves. Witness the recent events in Russia, Middle East, Kosovo, Indonesia etc, etc and you can see the invisible hands at work.
I am a civilian of Taiwan. I want to say about something about "the people in front of the President's home". Those people are the "villain" (I call them). They used to be a "villain". So they can't accept the result of the election of the President. In fact most of people in Taiwan welcome the new President. We hope that Taiwan can be better than ever!
And I have something to say to China. We voted for the one that you don't like. So that also means we choose "No" to China. Please "don't dream - it's over".
I see positive changes in Taiwan's economy and democracy. Taiwanese people deserve freedom of living and freedom of being who they are and where they are. China has no right to Taiwan at all. It is shameful to see Chinese's motivation of taking over the island of Taiwan, nothing but an eagle as they have never understood the respect of human rights.
The question is how long ago must a change in the status of a piece territory have occurred before it is considered legitimate. For example, Northern Ireland was created only in 1921. Is that old enough to make it legitimate? The world seems to think so. If that is legitimate then why is Taiwan not? Is it that 79 years is long enough for legitimacy but 51 is not? Or is it that everyone wants to do business with China and is willing to accept any sort of behaviour from it?
Using a more recent example, why is East Timor legitimately allowed to be a separate country if Taiwan cannot? I say more power to Taiwan - a modern, law based, and free country seeking to avoid oblivion in the maw of an arbitrary, anonymous, feudal nightmare.
Philip Sheridan, Thailand
I think in reality Taiwan is kind of independent.
Think of this, Taiwanese don't hold
the passports issued in Beijing China; Taiwanese
even need visa when they enter China. Almost
80% Taiwanese were born in Taiwan, and many
of them never been to China. So why does the Chinese
government say "Taiwan is part of China"?
As far as I am concerned, China is living in a dreamland, and cannot face the facts. The fact is Taiwan has been a dependent country for the past fifty years, she has her own armed forces, her own president, her own constitution, her own monetary system, as well as her own foreign policy. Apart from that, what does China offer to Taiwan to be united? Nothing! It is just like the poor cousin trying to marry the rich cousin by force! China is a very immature country in terms of politics. It is like the big bully, who must have his way! Witness the way it deals with Vietnam, or the Philippines. As far as I am concerned, Taiwan should declare her dependence now. China can do nothing except roar bark like a dog, and it's bark is useless.
The best for the future of Taiwan is to keep the present status quo. At the present time, Taiwan is for all intent and purposes an independent country. To ask for more than the present form of independence is to invite trouble from mainland China. Maybe in the future, when mainland China enjoys the same freedom as the Taiwanese, then and only then will re-unification be feasible. My congratulations to the people of Taiwan for toppling the last occupant of their Country in a peaceful means. In a sense, they won independence from the Koumintang, who previously rule China.
China seems to be operating on a very different system of logic than the rest of the world -- if it can be called logic at all. It's arguments against Taiwan independence are of two types:
Once again, Taiwanese proves to the world that they will not bend under the Chinese threat.
I don't understand the rational behind the "inseparable part of great China". What does it really mean? Aren't these empty words those communist politicians hold on to in order to get their power? They are not concerned with thousands of people who might lose their livelihood once China enters WTO, they were not concerned that there are still many people in China that are illiterate. They are not concerned with the disparity of income between the coastal region and the inner China. All they want is to look good, to have a bigger piece of territory, to have bigger control over the world politics. And sadly, mainland Chinese are educated by the communist to think that the "motherland" is more important than hundreds of thousands of people's lives. They don't know the value of life, the value of democracy, and the meaning of "respect".
How about a return to tributary status for Taiwan - presidents invested in Beijing, a few goodies handed over every year or two - it has a hallowed history and allows a reasonable level of autonomy. What price peace and prosperity, eh?
96% of mainland Chinese want a unified China no matter what the price may be.
Less than 40% of Taiwan Chinese voted for Chen, and maybe half of them want Taiwan
independence no matter what? China has never been spit without a war, and won't.
If talk does not work, war is the only choice. The fight for Taiwan is NOT about democracy,
as some are trying to make it to be, it is about one nation, with 5000 years of history.
If China were still the strongest and most prosperous country in the world, would
people even think about quitting being a Chinese? The Taiwan issue is just ONE
MORE example, just like the opium war, of what you get by being a poor and weak
nation. This should be a wake up call for ALL Chinese to work harder for a better and
Now that Taiwan has had its free elections its time the Chinese communist party to stand for election! Or maybe the party is chicken!
I strongly believe that Taiwan has fully earned the right over the last half century, to self determination through democratic means. And it is the responsibility of the other democracies of the world to ensure that this exercise of free will by the people of Taiwan is neither threatened or denied by the Peoples Republic of China. Surely, if the western democracies can rally around a small monarchy in Arabia that was bullied by a larger neighbour with territorial ambitions, then those same democracies can and should support a fully democratic nation against a similar aggressor.
John Watson, Canada
One nation should never declare her sovereignty merely according to the historical territory. Yes, Taiwan were part of China before, but so were Japan, Korea and some South Eastern Asian countries. So what? The point is: Taiwan, like the rest of countries in the world, has her own government, people and sovereignty now, which makes the elements of an independent nation. Taiwanese citizens held their own passport, use their own currency, enter international events by their own name; their motherland is Taiwan, not China.
This is the proudest moment in the history of Taiwan. The people in Taiwan resisted interrogation from both external-China, and internal-KMT. They have followed their own political logic that produce the first truly civilian president.
Well done Formosan!
The future would be a brand new, very fresh start of independence, and then the next step would be soothing China's angry President who seems to be 'on the edge; nowadays. Tush Tush, China, lets not get bitter..after all, we all know by now that the Taiwanese are much smarter than your silly minds are; who would want to join with a country where there's no freedom? China go away, Taiwan doesnt want you and frankly neither do I
If I was Taiwanese I would have two questions. The first, why is it that China does not take Taiwan now? The second, if China does not take Taiwan now, when and how will China take Taiwan in the future? As long as the Chinese Communist Party is in power, these two questions have been and should be asked by the Taiwanese government every day. Only time will tell. In conclusion, the situation is serious but, as always between governments, it sounds like two little boys fighting over a toy. I had it first. But, you were not using it. I am telling on you.
Both the Beijing Paper Tiger and the Red, White and Blue Big Brother should stop telling Taiwan what she is and is not. Taiwan is as much an independent country from China as the United States is from Great Britain or Ireland from Great Britain (United Kingdom). The Paper Tiger's verbal attacks are not only unprofessional and childish, but also shameful to the Chinese community worldwide. The Red, White and Blue Big Brother (a leader and a do-er of democracy) talks the talk but does not walks the walk. As in the case of Taiwan, which is desperately seeking independence, freedom (from Communist China), and democracy, but Big Brother shows no real support (Paper Tiger threatens with war prior to the election and Big Brother does nothing for Taiwan). Instead, Big Brother consistently reiterates that Taiwan is a part of China. What happened to the leader and do-er of Democracy?
Again, please point out to me why people have a stereotyped view that the communist government in China is out to get Taiwan? I am Chinese and proud of my blood, all I ever wanted is to see my motherland united. Chinese people united in a single nation. There is always so much bitter arguments between ourselves, all this independence, and anti-communist china agenda stretches half a century. Why let an old argument destroy the bright future of our people as we take a more central position in the World. Personally, I think USA should really butt out. Who gives them the right to interfere in an international affair? Please don't fight an old battle, and look inside your self, your heritage, your blood, and your skin. No matter where in the world you are, what nationality your are. We are Chinese, lets be united.
It is a nightmare for over 60% of voters, because Mr. Cheng is typical of a politician who is unreliable. According to our experience when he was the mayor of Taipei city, his was always changing his policies and seldom made his election promise came true; therefore how could we trust him and believe that he will lead us to a better future, especially as most of us know that he is the successor of the president's policy. If you really know some of us are going to commit suicide, because they think Mr Cheng can only bring the feeling of terror.
Let us stop being hypocrites and selfish. USA, UK, Clinton and Blair have only money in their sights when it comes to so called human rights.
Taiwan if it displeases the Chinese has no right to have their rights.
Wake up men!
I am a 22 year-old student doing BA International Relations, so I am seriously concerned about the situation between Taiwan and China. Being a loyal Taiwanese, I definitely support Chen shui-bien, the DPP presidential candidate. He has no burden of the corruptive history of KMT, although they are becoming less so since President Lee tung-hui, a faithful Christian, succeeded Chiang ching-kuo.
I am absolutely disgusted about China's belligerent rhetoric on military intimidation. China itself is already facing domestic and outside crisis, and they still haven't woken up. The CPC is already crippled by endless corruption and the recent suppression of Fa Lun Gong. When will they wake up from their authoritarian fantasy?
Besides, what's their next step after the have achieved so-called "the unification of the motherland"? Japan?
It is about time that the Taiwanese people have a say on their future. Only the Taiwanese people, not leaders in Beijing, Washington, or anywhere else has the right to determine the future of Taiwan. Why can't China accept that? Afraid to lose face. That's nonsense. Who knows- there could be many benefits of two independent nations working peacefully together.
According to the historical record, ever since the Chinese first Emperor had unified China thousands of years ago, China has never been permanently split-up. Definitely, there will be no exception this time, as far as the Taiwan question is concerned.
Even though, today's situation is more complicated due to interference of some foreign powers which historically always treat Chinese as their enemy and have always try to split-up Chinese people as well as the Chinese nation. I believe that the determination of the Chinese people to fulfil their historical duty in order to achieved the unification of their motherland should never be under estimated. The recent poll showed that 96% of Chinese people were in favour of war in the event Taiwan declared independence, once again proved this fact. I also got the feeling that the unification of the greater China could be achieved within 10 years and both Chinese in mainland as well as in Taiwan will enjoy more prosperity and happiness thereafter.
I feel that Taiwan should not fear becoming independent. China will do nothing, right now they want money and they need the WTO and greed will always win out over patriotism. So don't fear China, it's all talk.
I once wrote an essay in middle school on a topic "Fight for freedom or live safely under oppression." For this topic I wrote about the Taiwanese 40-year struggle for democracy against the KMT Chinese dictatorship of the island. Today, it seems that this topic embodies Taiwan's relation to China. The Taiwanese have always been struggling against a ruling power, whether it be the Portuguese, the Japanese, or the KMT Chinese. I believe that with this election, the Taiwanese can finally build a self-identity, a sense of nationalism and a deep appreciation for their democratic freedoms. From there, there will be no turning back. The Chinese know this all too well and are now making threats because their dreams of "unity" depend on it.
China seems to be taking care to maintain a good public show over Hong Kong and Macau. But let's not forget the actions taken by China against the once sovereign nation of Tibet. What will China's actions against a conquered Taiwan be? A nation that they have argued hotly about for longer then I've been alive. I doubt it will be good and I fear for my relatives there.
We of the west should not abandon this nation which is emerging as one of the best examples of democracy in Asia. We should stand beside our friend and ally and say that this is not right.
I am absolutely amazed by the goings-on in Taiwan -- As an American citizen who takes democracy for granted, it is refreshing to see that Taiwan is going about its democratic process with such enthusiasm and passion-- We are looking at a 75% voter turnout, compared to less than 50% in the last U.S. presidential election.
At the same time I am appalled that my nation is hypocritically bending over backwards to accommodate the draconian Communist Chinese. I hope Taiwan's democracy doesn't get smothered in the cradle for lack of international support from other established democracies.
It is absolutely shameful that the U.S. does nothing while Beijing threatens Taiwan with missile terrorism and military invasion. If another nation has threatened the U.S. with missile strikes to try to sway our presidential elections, I'm sure we would have reacted much more harshly! Shameful.
USA is the troublemaker between Taiwan and china. I do not know why USA stays in the Chinese civil war for so many years.
I, like any Taiwanese, want peace instead of war. If there is no choice to exercise my free will as a citizen in Taiwan, I will use my blood to fight for freedom for myself and my country.
It is easy for some people to say "I am sure in less than 10 years China will be united once and for all. The best Taiwanese solution is 'one nation - two systems'" However, if their children are kidnapped by China and become its children, they won't say the same thing. Unfortunately, Taiwanese people have their own dignity. Most of us don't want to relate ourselves to Chinese people. No matter how strong the pressure is, I myself want to commit to Taiwan's democracy and independence. The status of Taiwan should be decided and be consented by Taiwanese people. I hope everyone who reads my message will support my opinion and condemn those who want to want to dance with China and sacrifice a small country's benefits like Taiwan's. The world needs righteousness in order to keep peace
I think the most important thing for most Taiwanese today is that who will be the next President. But what more important is that they would not be affected by recent threat from China. Anyone having paid enough attention to China affairs would know that such threat is more or less empty words.
For me, if I were to choose, I would turn to Chen Shui Bian. He is just giving out a bright appearance, which gives hope to those who are tired of the ruling KMT, commonly known as 'an apple having gone bad'. War, something worrying most senior Taiwanese voters, is not likely if Chen really keeps his promise not to declare independence. But if China is still not satisfied and demand more, I believe one will not be impossible
I am a citizen of ROC(Taiwan) and most of my friends fear for war if the DDP candidate become the new president. There are too many people in Taiwan that have no idea about the future, they just want independence, no matter what will happen. I hope a war will never happen. Peace!!! No war!!!
Definitely - Taiwan should continue to pursue independence. Our beautiful island has been subjected to foreign and colonial rule for all of her history. The Dutch, the French/Spaniards at some parts, Ming dynasty, Ching dynasty, the Japanese, and KMT.
Now is the time for the Taiwanese people to stand up and show our independence for self-rule!
Whoever wins the election their policy towards China will be similar. Song Qu Yu and Chen Shui Bian at least have the advantage of fashioning their own policy. Lian Zhan, the "puppet" of Li Deng Hui will not have that luxury as he'll still be controlled by Li and the KMT, who have only survived in power by provoking a certain level of confrontation with China. Chen and the DPP will seek to lower tensions with China to reach out to the middle ground. The KMT is no "safe" pair of hands.
As a long-term resident of Taiwan I'm surprised at the ignorance displayed on these issues in the Western media. This thriving democracy deserves better support from Western countries who prefer to pay "lip service" to supporting democratic values. Taiwan is no more an integral part of China than Ireland or NZ are integral parts of Britain.
Chris Gasper, Taiwan
Taiwanese ROC is an cold war anachronism. I am sure in less than 10 years China will be united once and for all. The best Taiwanese solution is "one nation - two systems". Economy will sooner or later bring united China to democracy whether Communists want this or not.
I believe the war between China and Taiwan will be broken up if pro-independence candidate is elected.
Now is a very crucial period for China to develop its economy, especially for joining the WTO. We hope whoever will come into power in Taiwan should consider people's benefit firstly. Don't take people's lives and property at stake for their own political stake.
16 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
US urges China to cool rhetoric
15 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
China ups pressure on Taiwan
06 Mar 00 | Taiwan Election
The view from Beijing
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy