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Taiwan Has a Place in a New World Order

Vincent Siew is prime minister of Taiwan

The Republic of China on Taiwan is evolving and ardently aspires to actively contribute to peace and stability in East Asia and the new world order of the 21st century.

As early as a decade ago, the government and people of Taiwan began making major adjustments in their actions and thinking.

Under the leadership of Lee Teng-hui, we have successfully carried out a process of internal democratic reform. Today, we have developed into a fully liberated, vital open society.

We also have decided to face the reality of “a divided China,” and no longer claim to represent all of China. We believe that China should be unified in the future. However, at present and in the foreseeable future, neither Taipei nor Beijing can effectively govern all of China. Hence, there is no “one China,” rather only “one divided China,” of which the Republic of China is one part and the People’s Republic of China the other. Neither part can thus represent the other, and neither side can represent all of China.

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Finally, we believe that in this post-Cold War era, no country should be excluded from playing a part in the shaping of the new world order.

Prompted by these concepts, as early as 1991, President Lee unilaterally renounced the use of military force as a means to unify China. At the same time, he took the initiative to adopt a series of measures to expand people-to-people contacts between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and launch semiofficial talks.

Today Taiwan is the second-largest source of external investment on the Chinese mainland. Every year residents of Taiwan make more than a million trips to the mainland for business and other purposes. Taipei and Beijing have already held 17 rounds of semiofficial talks and signed several agreements.

On many different occasions, President Lee has publicly expressed his willingness to make a “journey of peace” to the Chinese mainland. The Taiwan government has also proposed many projects for bilateral cooperation, such as agricultural cooperation and an offshore transshipment center. Since the summer of 1995, we have continuously expressed our willingness to resume cross-strait talks.

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Unfortunately, what we have done in goodwill has only met with military intimidation, diplomatic suppression and threatening invective from Beijing.

As a member of the world community, we would certainly be pleased to participate in discussions on many major global issues such as trade, investment, human rights, crime, pollution, agriculture and telecommunications. We stand ready to offer our expertise and experience toward their solutions.

We also would be happy to see regional East Asian as well as bilateral issues resolved, but not at the expense of the legitimate rights of the 21 million people on Taiwan.

The government and the 21 million people on Taiwan have labored hard for the past 50 years so as not to be absorbed into a communist system under the Hong Kong model. Our rejection of the communist system is in no way tantamount to the advocacy of so-called Taiwan independence or the establishment of “two Chinas.” We simply prefer democracy and peaceful means of reunification.

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China’s reunification can be peacefully achieved only if both sides face the reality of a “divided China” and embark on discussions on equal footing.

In the long run, only a China unified under a democratic and open political system and integrated with the world is likely to bring happiness to its people and peace to its East Asia neighborhood.


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