The view that Taiwan is not part of China can stir so much passion, and its intensity was in full display a few months ago.
“I really hope our country will one day be treated as a genuine independent entity,” declared director Fu Yue, to wild cheers at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Awards last November 17 when she won the Best Documentary award. “This is my biggest wish as a Taiwanese,” she added.
Some movie stars from China who were present at the event in Taipei looked stone-faced upon hearing her acceptance speech, according to a CNN report. Chinese actor Tu Men went on stage later and said he “was honored to be a presenter at the Golden Horse ceremony in ‘Taiwan, China.’” The conflicting views of Tu and Ms. Fu ignited frenzied comments in social media from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
“We have never accepted and will never accept the ‘Taiwan, China’ label – Taiwan is Taiwan,” President Tsai wrote to her millions of followers on Facebook. “I’m proud of the Golden Horse ceremony… it accentuated how Taiwan is different from China.”
“Nobody will disappear or be censored because of different remarks and we don’t have sensitive keywords blocked on the internet,” Taiwan’s first-ever female president explained as she reassured the world of her country’s vibrant democracy where freedom of speech thrives.
In contrast, Chinese media outlets “quickly scrubbed clean any references to Fu and her winning documentary ‘Our Youth in Taiwan,’” CNN said. It added “Fu’s social media pages [were] inundated with vitriolic comments” and that Chinese celebrities, including China’s former megastar and highest-paid actress Fan Bingbing, “joined millions of internet users on the mainland to retweet a Chinese map that includes Taiwan with a superimposed national flag.”
Chinese President Xi has stepped up the rhetoric on future unification, proposing the “one country, two systems” model similar to that of Hong Kong. But analysts point out the seeming failure of such model in Hong Kong where a “climate of fear” reportedly exists amid “state-sponsored abductions” of those who go against the Chinese Communist Party.
Those elected to the Legislative Council, analysts explained, are required to take an oath swearing allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Those who do not, like the six elected council members who reportedly “refused to swear the oath or deliberately swore something different” in 2016, are denied their seats.
Citing the suppression of democracy and freedom of speech in Hong Kong, an op-ed article last January in Japan’s leading newspaper, The Yomiuri Shimbun, warned that “Xi’s promise of a ‘peaceful unification’ should not be taken at face value, and as the totalitarian nature of Beijing’s governance grows, so does the likelihood the Communist Party leader would deviate from his promise.”
In the Philippines, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador is adamant that his country is “definitely not part of China” as he pointed out the major and essential difference between Taiwan and China: democracy, human rights, and freedom.
Michael Peiyung Hsu, Representative of the Taipei and Cultural Office in the Philippines, stressed the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a sovereign and independent country which has 17 diplomatic allies and has developed substantive relations with most countries around the world.
“The claim that ‘the One China Principle is the consensus in international society’ is absolutely not true. Of China’s 178 diplomatic allies, only 51, or less than one-third, completely and explicitly recognized the so-called ‘One China Principle’ in their respective diplomatic communiqués or other documents establishing relations with China,” Hsu explained. “The US, Japan, EU members and other major advanced democracies around the world have their own ‘One China Policy,’ and do not accept the ‘One China Principle’ proclaimed by the PRC.”
Hsu also stressed: “Taiwan has its own democratically elected president and legislature, as well as a rich and diverse press that enjoys full freedom. Taiwan has its own military, independently conducts its own foreign affairs, and issues its own currency, passports and visas, exercising absolute and exclusive jurisdiction over its own territory. Taiwan is definitely not a part of China.” (To be continued)