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September 24, 2017

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It is not time to reactivate the Unification Guidelines

Loh I-cheng, a noted retired diplomat, in a recent article to the Forum page of a major local newspaper, urged the Ma Ying-jeou administration to reciprocate the goodwill gesture shown by Beijing in allowing Taiwan to participate in the Olympic Games under the name of "Chinese Taipei" instead of "Taipei, China" by restoring the operations of the Unification Council.

Loh argued that this is "kindness that costs one nothing." He pointed out that, just as clearly stated in the Unification Guidelines, the goal is to "establish a democratic, free and prosperous China with equal distribution of wealth" under the principle that "both the mainland and Taiwan are territories of China."

The Guidelines also stress that unification must be based on the "development of Chinese culture, preservation of human dignity, guarantee of basic human rights and practice of democracy and law and order." According to Loh, there is not a single word in this statement that the 23 million people of Taiwan cannot accept.

The above-quoted content of the Unification Guidelines is indeed a rational expression of the consensus of most Taiwanese.

However, the problem is that the unification-independence issue has been so manipulated by certain ill-motivated politicians, "deep green" leaders in particular, that it has become an emotional and irrational subject that grip the hearts and minds of local people.

For these politicians, an alleged history of several hundred years of unfair "alien rule" in Taiwan has justified an urgent call for native Taiwanese to seek self-rule, completely independent of mainland China.

Furthermore, they claim that modern democracy, which Taiwan has professed to be, dictates that the people of Taiwan have an inherent right to self-determination. Therefore, the decision on the future of Taiwan should be made by all local residents, not imposed by any political party.

No matter how clearly the Unification Guidelines declare the fact that Taiwan and mainland China are equal in terms of being parts of one country, the Taiwanese have a legitimate and understandable concern over whether the tiny Taiwan island will eventually be annexed, unwillingly and unfairly, by the huge Chinese mainland under the rule of Beijing.

This is why any discussion of the unification question is bound to provide politicians with a golden opportunity to agitate local voters with charges that unification is tantamount to national betrayal.

At a time when the newly inaugurated Ma administration is beset with numerous crises, this nation needs no more thorny issues such as the unification-independence controversy to burden the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

Ma was wise in reassuring the nation of his determination to pursue a course of "no unification, no independence and no military action."

Since Taiwan has proclaimed itself a genuine democracy with its president elected by the popular vote, the future of Taiwan must and should be determined by the will of its people.

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