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Mainland government cannot be trusted to decide our fate

The words of Fan Liqing, the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman, have caused quite a stir in Taiwan over the past week. In response to Tainan Mayor William Lai's declaration that “Taiwan's future must be decided jointly by the 23 million people of Taiwan,” the mainland's TAO responded with, “Any issue that involves Chinese sovereignty and China's territorial completeness must be decided by, including Taiwanese compatriots, the entire populace of China.”

Recently in this corner we have pointed out that the consensus among the inhabitants of this island is that Taiwan is already independent; the debate for the vast majority of Taiwanese is, rather, over whether to move toward a name-change involving the dropping of the world “China” from the country's official name. It is a debate over cultural identity and heritage that has little to do with Beijing's view of Taiwan as a rebel province, a view that nobody here ascribes to.

We made an observation that Lai merely brought out into the open, an observation of the PRC's hard-line position, which has always been hard-line, and reminded Taiwanese that perhaps the solution to the problem cannot be found through “more communication” as the problem lies in a fundamental refusal to accept each others' respective positions.

China's call for “all Chinese” to decide the future of Taiwan needs to be tested against the question of what is the substance of the choice we are being offered. How valuable is the “decision” over the future of Taiwan's status?

“The Chinese do not even get to decide their own fate, how can they decide the fate of others?” runs a popular refrain from the past week, referring to the PRC's authoritarian governance. China's crackdown on the New Citizens' Movement, a group of liberal activists who seek to promote constitutional rights of free speech guaranteed by the PRC's own charter, does not inspire confidence in its sincerity to provide room for a serious choice to be made.

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