163. Taiwan's "Taiwanization" —— President Chen Sui-bian's decision to abolish the Guidelines for National Unification and to join the United Nations again

Copyright (Feb.10,2006) by TAKESHITA Yoshirō
Reissued as an English Edition (Oct.27,2006) by IWAYA Bunta


On January 29, 2006, the New Year's Day of Taiwan, the President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) gave a new year speech in his hometown. He mentioned that there have been discussions on abolishing the "National Unification Guidelines" (國家統一要領)[#1] and participating in the United Nations again with the name of "Taiwan" as goals of this year.

President Chen:
Discussions on abolishing the Guidelines for National Unification and joining the United Nations with the name of "Taiwan"

January 30, 2006
Office of the President, Republic of China (Taiwan)

President Chen Shui-bian returned to his hometown Tainan (台南) to attend the Lunar New Year party on January 29, 2006 with local supporters. In the opening speech, he outlined three tasks for the new year — abolishing the Guidelines for National Unification, drafting a new constitution by the end of the year, and entering the United Nation with the name of Taiwan — at a lunch banquet held by hundreds of his supporters at his alma mater of the Matou Junior High School in Matou Township (麻豆), Tainan County.

"We have already recovered from the failure in the last election and are just taking a new step forward," he mentioned the "Three-in-One Election" (三合一選擧)[1] in last December. "Not only a reformation of the personnel system of the Minchin-tang [Democratic Progressive Party] (民主進歩黨)[2] with an inauguration of the new Cabinet but also every coming step is important. We will have a better year by reflecting and reviewing what we have done," he expressed his expectations.

He presented three policies to be firmly maintained in the future: the ideal process of democratic reformation, further strengthening the Taiwan consciousness, and establishing a normal, complete, advanced, beautiful and great country. He also mentioned that there have been discussions on abolishing the National Unification Guidelines and participating in the United Nations again with the name of "Taiwan" as subjects to be seriously considered.

"What Chinese unification are we after? This is an extremely serious topic. As everybody knows, all that's left of the council is its name like a store whose sign has disappeared and stocks gone. This kind of council and its representatives seek a unified China, and the guidelines even accept the 'one China' principle.[3] These are all problems. I think now is an appropriate time, we should seriously consider and properly handle the matter, and examine it closely,"[*1][*2] Chen emphasized his opinion regarding to the guidelines.

"When we think about our national dignity and status in the global affairs, as many people are saying, we need new thought and means, namely, we should seriously consider to join the United Nations with the name of Taiwan." President Chen also mentioned that he instructed the Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山 Chen Tang-shan) — who has served as a top diplomat for long time and is familiar with international affairs — to carefully discuss about the necessity to join the United Nations with the name of "Taiwan."

Regarding to the enactment of the new constitution, he said, "Taiwan needs a new constitution that is timely, relevant and viable. The first draft of the constitutional reformation was completed in last June but it is still insufficient. I look forward to the completion of a civilian-drafted bill of 'Taiwan's New Constitution' by the end of this year. Should conditions in the Taiwan society become sufficiently mature, who is to say that holding a referendum on the new Constitution by 2007 is an impossibility?. After all, this is an overarching national goal of Taiwan. A suitable and feasible constitution will build Taiwan into a normal, complete, progressive, beautiful and great country. Most Taiwanese people hope to see the country pursue national dignity and enhance Taiwanese consciousness."[*3]

N.B.: Guidelines for National Unification was set up in 1991 during the time of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), declared both sides of the Taiwan Strait to be Chinese territory to map out a constitutional arrangement for unification under a "democratic, free, and equitably prosperous China."[#1] The guidelines have a three step process (short-, mid- and long-term goals) for the gradual unification of mainland China and Taiwan.

(Translated from the Japanese version)

Original article: Weekly Taiwan (Japanese)

What is the Guidelines for National Unification? Many people are probably not quite familiar with this. "Taiwan" is commonly known as the name of this country but its official name is the "Republic of China" (ROC). As its official name includes the word "China," Taiwan is the country under principle of the "only legal government of whole China and its sole legal representative in the international arena." Currently, Mainland China has been illegally occupied by the Communist Party (People's Republic of China, PRC) and the Republic of China 'temporary takes refuge' to Taiwan. Through the national unification, Republic of China will rule whole China again... — This is a quite unrealistic and nominal principle. The government on Taiwan defines the mainland city of Nanking (南京) as its official capital, and designates Taiwan's largest city of Taipei as its temporary capital. (Similarly, the capital of North Korea is Pyongyang but was recognized as a "temporary (wartime) capital" during 1948-72. Seoul (capital of South Korea) was designated as its formal capital)

The fact President Chen announced to abolish the Guidelines for National Unification means that the Republic of China has eventually admitted the reality, the Communist Party is the ruler of Mainland China (People's Republic of China), it is a mere dream to recapture the whole China, and the ROC only rules Taiwan. It suggests that Taiwan has clearly shifted its principle from "One China" to "de-China," namely, the "Taiwanization." This decision is equal to a declaration to succeed to the line of the former president Lee Teng-hui. It seems that President Chen has steered the course of the national policy for the "Taiwanization" to build a strong political foundation.

In this stream, the goal where President Chen aims at is to join the United Nations again with the name of "Taiwan." When the Communist China joined the UN, Taiwan lost its position of the UN Security Council and withdrew itself (October 1971). Nevertheless Taiwan has been unreasonably "ostracized" from the international society, it is truly an independent and sovereign country with a population of 23 million people. Even "One China" advocates cannot disregard the existence of Taiwan because it is definitely one of the leading countries in Asia and its economic development ranks high. Taiwan's participation in the United Nations is the most realistic choice to lift its position in the global affairs.

Due to China's obstruction, Taiwan was denied direct access to the World Health Organization (WHO) resources during the 2003 SARS crisis. China is determined to obstruct all Taiwan's efforts to expand its international space and it is obvious that Beijing will oppose the initiative again. Because of the 'One China' principle, Beijing will never accept the Republic of China to have a seat in the United Nations. However, as long as there has been a precedent that two countries in the Korean Peninsula — South Korea (Republic of Korea) and North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) which both countries insist the position of "the only legitimate government of the Korean Peninsula" — have both seats in the United Nations, there is no reason to refuse Taiwan's participation as long as Taiwan abandons its title "Republic of China."

As a neighboring country and a close friend of Taiwan, Japan should share the situation nevertheless there is no diplomatic relations. For peace and stability of the region, it is important to retrain China's hegemonism as our common "hypothetical enemy" that could be the "real enemy" any time. For Japan's national interest, it is strategically consequent to strengthen relations with Taiwan, Southeast Asian countries and India as long as we don't have good relationships with China, Koreas and Russia. The current situation of East Asia is in a vortex of a "survival game." To survive in such a circumstances, it is indispensable to strengthen the relationship between Japan and Taiwan by forming an alliance. There is no way for Taiwan to survive without mutual relations with Japan.

Additional Remarks

Currently, there is no diplomatic relations between Japan and Taiwan although our economic and cultural relations are flourishing. Only the political (diplomatic) side has been stagnant. Still, intervisitations of Diet members and military exchanges are quite active. The reason why Japan is unable to restore diplomatic relations with Taiwan is solely the name, "Republic of China." As indicated in the guidelines, "Both the mainland and Taiwan areas are parts of Chinese territory,"[*1] Taiwan still holds the One China Principle.

Tokyo and Beijing have decided to establish diplomatic relations as from September 29, 1972. It is commonly described as the "restoration of diplomatic relations with China" but it was the "first establishment of diplomatic relations with the Communist China." Consequently, Japan had to break off of diplomatic relations with Taiwan because of the One China Principle that does not allow other countries to have diplomatic relations with the Chinese Nationalist Government in Taiwan. As long as Taiwan holds the name "Republic of China," Japan is unable to restore political relations although the Chinese Nationalist Party no longer "rules" Taiwan and although we are good neighbors.

It is a drastic change of Taiwan to shift its national identity from the "Republic of China" to "Taiwan." By abolishing the Guidelines for the National Unification, the dilemma "Two Chinas" will be dissolved nevertheless the Red China will never accept the "Taiwanization." If Taiwan really wishes to be formally recognized by the international community and to establish relations with other countries, the Taiwanization is definitely indispensable. Taiwan should not go back at all for its international status and relationships with Japan and other countries.

Related document

Events of Japan-Taiwan culture and entertainment (日台文化藝能の出來事).
http://www004.upp.so-net.ne.jp/teikoku-denmo/html/taiwan/nittai_culture.pdf (PDF ver. 14 file, Japanese)


Guidelines for National Unification

        Adopted by the National Unification Council at its third meeting on February 23, 1991, and by the Executive Yuan Council (Cabinet) at its 2223rd meeting on March 14, 1991.

I. Foreword
        The unification of China is meant to bring about a strong and prosperous nation with a long-lasting, bright future for its people; it is the common wish of Chinese people at home and abroad. After an appropriate period of forthright exchange, cooperation, and consultation conducted under the principles of reason, peace, parity, and reciprocity, the two sides of the Taiwan Straits should foster a consensus of democracy, freedom and equal prosperity, and together build anew a unified China. Based on this understanding, these Guidelines have been specially formulated with the express hope that all Chinese throughout the world will work with one mind toward their fulfillment.

II. Goal
        To establish a democratic, free and equitably prosperous China.

III. Principles
1. Both the mainland and Taiwan areas are parts of Chinese territory. Helping to bring about national unification should be the common responsibility of all Chinese people.
2. The unification of China should be for the welfare of all its people and not be subject to partisan conflict.
3. China's unification should aim at promoting Chinese culture, safeguarding human dignity, guaranteeing fundamental human rights, and practicing democracy and the rule of law.
4. The timing and manner of China's unification should first respect the rights and interests of the people in the Taiwan area, and protect their security and welfare. It should be achieved in gradual phases under the principles of reason, peace, parity, and reciprocity.
IV. Process
1. Short term--A phase of exchanges and reciprocity.
(1) To enhance understanding through exchanges between the two sides of the Strait and eliminate hostility through reciprocity; and to establish a mutually benign relationship by not endangering each other's security and stability while in the midst of exchanges and not denying the other's existence as a political entity while in the midst of effecting reciprocity.
(2) To set up an order for exchanges across the Strait, to draw up regulations for such exchanges, and to establish intermediary organizations so as to protect people's rights and interests on both sides of the Strait; to gradually ease various restrictions and expand people-to- people contacts so as to promote the social prosperity of both sides.
(3) In order to improve the people's welfare on both sides of the Strait with the ultimate objective of unifying the nation, in the mainland area economic reform should be carried out forth-rightly, the expression of public opinion there should gradually be allowed, and both democracy and the rule of law should be implemented; while in the Taiwan area efforts should be made to accelerate constitutional reform and promote national development to establish a society of equitable prosperity.
(4) The two sides of the Strait should end the state of hostility and, under the principle of one China, solve all disputes through peaceful means, and furthermore respect--not reject--each other in the international community, so as to move toward a phase of mutual trust and cooperation.
2. Medium term--A phase of mutual trust and cooperation.
(1) Both sides of the Strait should establish offical communication channels on equal footing.
(2) Direct postal, transport and commercial links should be allowed, and both sides should jointly develop the southeastern coastal area of the Chinese mainland and then gradually extend this development to other areas of the mainland in order to narrow the gap in living standards between the two sides.
(3) Both sides of the Strait should work together and assist each other in taking part in international organizations and activities.
(4) Mutual visits by high-ranking officials on both sides should be promoted to create favorable conditions for consultation and unification.
3. Long term--A phase of consultation and unification.
        A consultative organization for unification should be established through which both sides, in accordance with the will of the people in both the mainland and Taiwan areas, and while adhering to the goals of democracy, economic freedom, social justice and nationalization of the armed forces, jointly discuss the grand task of unification and map out a constitutional system to establish a democratic, free, and equitably prosperous China.
Mainland Affiars Council, Republic of China

References for English translation

*1. "Taiwan Premier Mum on Chen's Lunar New Year's Day Remarks". Taiwan Headlines (February 1, 2006).

*2. "Scrap unification guidelines, Chen says". Taipei Times (January 30, 2006).

*3. "President Chen's New Year Message" (January 1, 2006). Office of the President, Republic of China.

Terms and Related information (Wikipedia Links)

  1. Three-in-One Election (三合一選擧), ROC local elections, Dec. 3, 2005.

  2. Minchin-tang [Democratic Progressive Party, DPP] (民主進歩黨), Pinyin: Minjindang.

  3. One-China Policy (一個中國)