"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

When yin equals yang

Give me ambiguity, or give me something else
In his National Day speech on Sunday, Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian stated that "The Republic of China is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the Republic of China."

Yesterday, former president Lee Teng-hui called the statement deceptive rhetoric.

The difference is that being president, Chen Shui-bian doesn't have the option of being as blunt as Lee can be. Lee himself admitted that he, too, said almost the same thing when he was in office.

Again, we should go back to Derrida's decontructionist philosophy and consider the multiple legitimate interpretations of each.

According to the constitution, the "Republic of China" (ROC) includes all of what the world knows as "China" -- including Outer Mongolia, which has been independent from China since 1921. However, the government in Taiwan has never controlled any of the area now known as the People's Republic of China (PRC). The constitution needs to be rewritten to reflect the reality of the situation.

According to Lee Teng-hui, the ROC "does not exist." Chen Shui-bian seems to be arguing that if it does, it only exists on Taiwan, and that Taiwanese who identify with either "Taiwan" or the "ROC" hold equally valid views.

Beijing has already responded to Chen's National Day speech by saying that his statements are "too insincere and vague to be treated seriously," while others see the ambiguity as a good thing. Executive director of the Institute for National Policy Research Lo Chih-cheng says, "The speech solves the problem of the 'one China' principle with ambiguity. If both sides are willing to accept this ambiguity, than a new beginning is possible,"

Whichever interpretation one chooses, it is impossible to see Chen as "bellicose." It is equally impossible to see China as having any flexibility whatsover.
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