44 international scholars release open letter to democratic Taiwan

44 international scholars speak out in favor of Tsai Ing-wen's response to Xi Jinping's menacing speech last week

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(Pixabay image)

(Pixabay image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A total of 44 international scholars and former U.S. government officials, including Jerome Cohen, William Stanton, and Stephen Young today jointly published an open letter to support of President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) response to Xi Jinping's menacing speech and called on the people of Taiwan from different political viewpoints to unite and confront China's threat.

In response to a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 2, 44 scholars from around the world today published an open letter in both Chinese and English titled "A open letter to the citizens of a democratic Taiwan." The opening paragraph of the letter reads as follows:

"We the undersigned scholars, former government and military officials, and other friends of Taiwan who have witnessed and admired Taiwan’s transition to democracy for many decades wish to express to the people of Taiwan our sense of urgency to maintain unity and continuity at this critical moment in Taiwan’s history."

Xi's speech commemorated the 40th anniversary of a policy message from the Chinese communist Party (CCP) entitled “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” made on Jan. 1, 1979. During the speech, Xi insisted that Taiwan "must and will be" united with China based on the "1992 consensus" under the "one China principle."

That same day, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) countered by saying, "Taiwan will never accept a 'one country, two systems' framework." The majority of Taiwan’s public opinion resolutely opposes “one country, two systems,” she added. Tsai then emphasized what she refers to as the "Taiwan consensus" and described the "four musts," which include that China must accept the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), respect the commitment of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens to freedom and democracy, peacefully resolve the cross-strait differences in an equitable manner, and engage in negotiations with the Taiwan government or authorized representative body.

The authors of the letter agreed that this was the correct response. They said that it also demonstrated her "stable and responsible leadership" in the face of the growing threat from Communist China.

The scholars applauded the brave stand the Taiwanese people are taking in resisting China's threats and defending their democratic system. However, the authors also expressed concern that Beijing's recent "subversive techniques of deception" may sow the seeds of internal division and chaos in Taiwan's politics, and create the kind of internal strife that Beijing could use as the pretext to use force against Taiwan.

The authors praised Tsai's "quiet demeanor and careful balancing" as she has both advanced Taiwian's status on the world stage while firmly "defending Taiwan’s hard-won freedom and democracy." The scholars also urged the leaders of their own countries to support Taiwan against Beijing's bullying:

"Just as Taiwan has made itself a democratic model for the region, Tsai has earned the respect of other nations for her courageous and composed response to the aggressive bullying of Taiwan’s powerful neighbor. We urge our own governments to make clear to Beijing that Taiwan does not stand alone."

The letter pointed out that Taiwan is at a crossroads in which its very survival is under threat by Communist China. Although Taiwan, like many democratic nations, has many internal problems that must be resolved, the authors insisted that the democratic process should be allowed to continue in a manner that will not affect national unity at a time when the country is faced with a "larger threat to it's existence as a free and democratic nation."

The letter warned that if Taiwanese people from different political standpoints do not understand this threat and "go on with business as usual," it will provide "Beijing’s repressive leaders with an opportunity to divide Taiwanese society and increasingly make it an inevitability that Taiwan is incorporated into China."

The letter then listed Communist China's suppression of freedom and democracy after taking over East Turkestan in 1949, Tibet in 1950 to 1951, and Hong Kong in 1997 as a "wake-up call for Taiwan."

Notable signatories of the letter included John Tkacik, director of the Future Asia Project at the International Assessment and Strategy Center; William Stanton and Stephen Young former directors of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT); Jerome Cohen, a professor at New York University School of Law; Michael Danielsen, chairman of Denmark's Taiwan Corner; Bruce Jacobs, a professor emeritus at Australia's Monash University and a specialist in Taiwan politics; and Michael Rand Hoare, a research associate at the Centre of Taiwan Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies.