Friday, September 28, 2007

Chen Interview in Der Spiegel

A loyal reader informed me that President Chen Shui-bian was interviewed in the German news magazine this week:

SPIEGEL: Taiwan is a democracy, which cannot be said for many countries in the UN. But the fact remains that your wish has encountered resistance from the beginning -- with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but also with the United States, Taiwan's protector. Doesn't this irritate you?

Chen: I wrote a letter to Ban Ki-moon, which he rejected -- a disappointment. The United States, Japan and Australia, among other countries, have refuted his view that Taiwan is a part of the People's Republic. We can understand that Washington, in response to Chinese pressure, does not support our effort. We respect this position, even if we regret it.

SPIEGEL: One cannot help but think that you are using the referendum to stage a spectacle in the run-up to parliamentary elections in 2007, as well as a presidential election, even though the constitution bars your from running for a third term. The UN doesn't want to admit Taiwan, and you are alienating the Bush administration and risking tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Chen: China will only be satisfied with us if we capitulate and declare that we are part of the mainland. China objected to our decision to become a democracy and, in 1996, during our first free presidential election, fired missiles in our direction. China threatened us with military force when I was elected in 2000, and the same thing happened in 2004 when we held our first referendum. Whatever we do upsets Beijing.

SPIEGEL: What can Taiwan, a small island, do to oppose China, a huge country?

Chen: We appeal to the democratic world to support us. Think of the historic example of the 1938 Munich Agreement, under which Hitler was granted the Sudetenland region. England and France wanted to appease him, but only one year later the Second World War broke out. If we make compromises with a dictatorship today we will only encourage other dictators. Small countries will suffer as a result.

Chen's reference to Munich references something that has great emotional effect on Westerners. Good work. Two pages of interviews there....happy reading.

Speaking of the UN entry campaign, Oct 24 is UN Day in Taiwan, now a national holiday.

Taiwan on Wednesday declared that it will make UN Day on October 24 a national holiday to tell the world that the island is determined to join the United Nations. "This year is the first year that we have applied to join the UN under the name of Taiwan. We want to tell the world that we will never give up," Premier Chang Chun-hsiung told a news conference.

More excellent publicity -- and more KMT-DPP cooperation.


Anonymous said...

Semi-related follow-up article:

China's Communists to Set New Taiwan Policy at Party Congress

Looks like trouble ahead for Taiwan on Oct. 15

Anonymous said...

My personal prediction:

1. Taiwan UN referendum passes.

2. It will take 6 to 9 months to get ready.

3. 2008 Olympic.

4. Invasion of Taiwan right after Olympic.

Perfect timing?

Michael Fahey said...

I think it does bear mentioning that "Taiwan UN Day" on Oct. 24th will be marked by official events rather than a day off (只紀念不放假 ). In other words, no one will pay any attention to it.

StefanMuc said...

Well arty my prediction is: the PRC will do nothing that stupid. They've just spend a huge amount of effort for their PR exercise with the Olympic games. They'll not be willing to risk their relations with other countries over the Taiwan issue. Their government is well aware on how much their position depends on continued economic growth.

Alright though - talk is cheap: how about a gentlemen's bet? I'd wager US$200. You are such an expert on PRC/Taiwan relations, so that should be easy money for you. Mail me at (throwaway-address I'll let it live until spam starts coming in) and let's exchange details.

Anonymous said...

talk is cheap: how about a gentlemen's bet?

I don't gamble with exception of stock market and 1 dollar lottery ticket. :) And thousands of Taiwnese lives just worth 200 dollars to you?

Mark said...

"I don't gamble with exception of stock market and 1 dollar lottery ticket. :)

I do. Unfortunately I'm on the same side he is. I'd put the odds of an invasion pretty low. With the way the economy has been sputtering here and roaring over there, China will likely be able to buy all the support they need.