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September 22, 2017

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The fate of Taiwan should only be decided by Taiwanese

Chinese officials recently made the comment that Taiwan's fate, that is, to be independent or to ultimately reunify with mainland China, should be decided by people living on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

This reflects China's habitual push to include territories of other nations into its own. It has been involved in territorial disputes with other neighboring nations, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Internally, China is forcing unity with Tibet and Xinjiang. Its forceful suppression of dissenting voices has caused much discontent. Sources say there were about 130 incidents of self-immolation conducted by Tibetans in the past five years to voice protest.

Critics say it has almost become part of the Chinese culture to force others to be Chinese people, just like their attempt with Taiwanese, Tibetans and Uighurs. This has aroused discontent among Han Chinese as well. A survey conducted over the Internet found that 65 percent of Chinese say that if given the choice they would not like to be Chinese. Well-known author Joe Chung from Hong Kong wrote a book titled "I Don't Want to Be Chinese Again," which was a bestseller in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Chinese government touts a "one country, two systems" approach in its rule of Hong Kong. In a recently published white paper, China's ruling party claims complete authority over Hong Kong, the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of which are all subject to the "central government" of China.

While it is stipulated in Chinese law that Hong Kong enjoys "high autonomy," it can hardly be realized. Analysts say the "two systems" idea is like a bird in the cage of "one country." It may serve as a warning to Taiwan, as the Chinese government has repetitively stated the same "one country, two systems" policy for Taiwan.

It appears that China's calm-looking President Xi Jinping has ambitions. Not just Hong Kong but also Taiwan is now within his eyesight. One might not grasp immediately that many of China's muscle-flexing actions were introduced under his watch.

Earlier this month marked the 25-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The Chinese government took many precautions to prevent the anniversary from spinning out of control. Dissidents were jailed. Sensitive information about the protests was blocked on the Internet. Many people younger than 25 years old don't know what actually happened in the 1989 mass protest.

After Taiwan's student-led protest that bogged down the Legislative Yuan over conflicting views on the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, the government across the strait has come to understand that there is a great lack of trust among Taiwanese people toward Beijing. The Ministry of Economic Affairs said the signing of the follow-up goods trade agreement is indefinitely delayed.

It is clear that President Ma Ying-jeou's administration is adopting a policy that is leaning more and more toward China, evidenced by its promotion of increasingly closer economic and trade ties with mainland China. The government believes Taiwan will gain favorable trade treatment from China, giving Taiwan an edge over other nations.

President Ma did not voice any opposition to China's recent claim that the fate of Taiwan is to be decided by people living on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Ma said in his 2008 election speech that Taiwan is an independent and democratic country and its destiny should be decided by the 23 million people living in Taiwan, without China's interference. He is not saying that today.

Nevertheless, the fate of Taiwan is not to be decided by Taiwan's government or the Chinese government. It should be decided by Taiwanese people only.

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