Saturday, March 26, 2005

Taiwan's Right to Freedom (

"China has attempted to justify its anti-secession law by at times claiming a parallel to the U.S. Civil War and Lincoln's effort to forcibly preserve the Union. But the analogy is fundamentally flawed. Abraham Lincoln strove to maintain a Union of territories placed under sovereign control of the U.S. federal government in 1787 by a ratification process that rested on popular consent. China's 'law' is the product of one-party tyranny conducted by 'parliamentarians' who have never faced election. It refers to a Taiwan that has never been a part of, or under the sovereign control of, the People's Republic of China. And it ignores the most basic point: Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union in the name of freedom, not to deny it.

This from a column in the Washington Post by Frank Hsieh. Bruce, at Naruwan Formosa, is all over this one, and I will defer to his impressive erudition. It is interesting to note, however, as Paul Johnson does, that "No (Confederate) state held a referendum (on secession). It was decided by a total of 854 men in various secession conventions, all of them selected by legislatures, not by the voters. Of these, 157 voted against secession. So 697 men, mostly wealthy, decided the destiny of 9 million people, mostly poor."

"China is a group-centered culture that puts the well-being of the whole ahead of the interest of individuals (i mean "ahead", not "replace") i think it is this culturally originated mindset that makes a "referendum" that favors a part of the country and harms the whole totally unacceptable." This from Bingfeng Teahouse.

Even if this were a valid claim on all Chinese (what Ross Terrill calls the belief that the Beijing authorities are "the arbiters of the soul of every Chinese"), where does it leave Beijing's claim on the non-Han minorities held involuntarily in the Chinese 家, the Confucian family-state? This is a belief held by large numbers of people in the Han heartland, (although I would suggest that the vast Chinese diaspora of overseas Chinese have voted with their feet on the issue), but what of Tibetans, Uighurs, and Mongols who have very different cultures? Do they lose all right of self-determination if it can be shown that Han Chinese culture really is group-oriented in this way? "Today, although Han people make up 92% of the PRC's population, 60% of the PRC's territory is occupied in considerable numbers by China's 55 minorities." (Terrill) Do these non-Chinese also not have a right to opt out of the unitary state?