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Taiwan`s peace needs democracy, not prizes

Taiwan`s peace needs democracy, not prizes

In the wake of the December 31 six-point statement by People`s Republic of China State Chairman Hu Jintao on the 30th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party regime`s first overture to ``Taiwan compatriots,`` PRC media and even some Taiwan ``famous media mouths`` and international pundits have begun to float the possibility of a Nobel Peace Prize for both Hu and President Ma Ying-jeou of the restored rightist Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government in Taiwan.

Although the notion of nominating Hu and Ma for the prestigious prize was first floated by former far right Chinese New Party chief and now media mogul Jaw Shaw-kang, the ``Southern Weekend`` newspaper in China`s Guangzhou City refloated this proposal earlier this month.

On January 7, Southern Weekend commentator Cao Xin wrote that, after Hu`s ``six point`` statement and Ma`s initial positive response, ``a historical breakthrough in cross-strait relations can now be expected very soon`` and declared that realization of Hu`s ``vision of cross-strait military confidence building mechanisms and an official peace agreement to end the state of hostility in the Taiwan Strait`` would ``signify the official end of the civil war among the 1.3 billion people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,`` which the Guangzhou weekly commentator defined as ``the continuation of the KMT-CCP civil war of the last century.``

Although Cao enthused that ``it is not difficult to see why Chinese society would call`` for Ma and Hu to receive Nobel Peace Prizes, neither leader merits consideration for such an honor, in our honest opinion.

It should be recalled that Nobel Peace Prizes, named after the late Swedish dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, are supposed to be awarded to ``the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses`` but have also been granted to persons or organizations involved in efforts to resolve festering conflicts.

Since a wide range of personages have the power make nominations, there is no particular honor to being nominated, as notably unpeaceful persons such as the late German Nazi dictator Adolf Hilter, Italian fascist autocrat Benito Mussolini and the Soviet Union`s Joseph Stalin were all nominees.

A case parallel with a Hu-Ma award would be the controversial decision to give joint 1973 Nobel Peace Prizes to then United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Democratic Republic of Vietnam Le Duc Tho for the signing of the January 1973 Paris Agreements that supposedly ``ended`` the decades long U.S. war against Vietnam.

While Kissinger, who many believe should be prosecuted for war crimes, accepted his share of the prize, Le refused on the grounds that there was as yet no peace in his war torn country, which only achieved a type of peace on April 30, 1975 when DRV troops entered Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.

In any case, the actual decision making power rests with the Norwegian Nobel Committee, chosen by the parliament of Norway, whom we hope will reject any nominations for Hu or Ma for broadly similar reasons since even a formal reconciliation between the KMT and CCP will not signify genuine or lasting ``peace`` in the Taiwan Strait.

Nevertheless, such trial balloons do raise some interesting questions, such as what would be the character of a Taiwan Strait ``peace`` that could justify a Nobel prize.

To outsider pundits who see ``peace`` as the absence of a shooting war in the Taiwan Strait, Hu`s statement seemed to show that he has persuaded CCP hawks to respond positively to the conciliatory moves made by Ma and his KMT government after taking office May 20 to appease Beijing.

However, the PRC state chairman and CCP general secretary issued a quite different definition of ``peace`` by insisting that any military CBIs or peace agreements could only take place under the precondition of Beijing`s ``one China principle,`` which posits that Taiwan is part of the PRC, and both excluded the ``Republic of China`` and the Ma`s fanciful notion of ``mutual non-denial`` from consideration.

Since Beijing`s ``one China principle`` posits that Taiwan is part of the PRC, it is clear that Hu`s definition of ``peace`` is similar with Hitler`s principle for resolving the 1938 ``Sudetenland`` crisis, namely the wiping of an existing democratic independent nation off the world map.

Inconvenient truths

While Ma has yet to issue a full response to Hu`s six points, it should also be noted that claims that a meeting of the minds between KMT and CCP leaders (leaving aside the fact that Ma himself is not directly involved in the KMT-CCP dialogue) means ``peace`` ignore the inconvenient facts that the actual source of conflict is the abject refusal of the PRC to accept the existing reality that Taiwan is already a democratic and independent nation as a basis for equal and dignified political talks without preconditions and the reality that the overwhelming majority of Taiwan`s 23 million people want to keep our country independent and democratic.

Indeed, even though the Taiwan - centric Democratic Progressive Party lost power in last year`s presidential poll due to dissatisfaction with its governance and based on belief in Ma`s promises to respect the right of the Taiwan people to decide their future, ``Taiwan identity`` has actually risen under the ``pro-unification`` KMT.

A sign of this trend was the poll of 1,087 Taiwan adults by the pro-KMT ``Commonwealth`` monthly, which showed that 57.8 percent want to keep Taiwan`s current actually existing independent status while a record high 23.5 per cent want formal independence.

Hence, over 80 percent of Taiwan`s people want to keep Taiwan apart from the PRC and only 6.5 per cent want unification with the PRC, which is Hu`s definition of ``peace in our time.``

This reality hints that the definition of ``peace`` held by most Taiwan people assumes the foundations of democracy and our ``people`s sovereignty`` and thus is rather different from that entertained by the PRC leader and, likely, Ma and the KMT as well, who proffered ``peace and prosperity`` in their campaign but left out ``democracy`` and ``Taiwan sovereignty.``

Don`t Tread on us

Unlike three decades ago when the PRC National People`s Congress addressed the ``Letter to the Taiwan Compatriots`` at the late KMT autocrat Chiang Ching-kuo`s exogenous martial law regime, the Taiwan people now can use their voices and cast their ballots and march in their streets and, presumably, take other actions as well if necessary.

Where a genuinely cross-strait peace process would end could be an open question, but any process that would have legitimacy in today`s democratic Taiwan must begin with recognition that the majority of the Taiwan people still want peace with assent and without coercion, with democracy and without repression and with creativity and without preconditions or predetermined conclusions.

Indeed, any ``peace`` arranged by the KMT and CCP behind the backs of the 23 million Taiwan people will not ``end hostilities`` but is likely to trigger considerable domestic unrest within Taiwan and could even pave the way for genuine and drawn-out conflict throughout East Asia in the future.

Such a ``peace`` will not be ``honorable`` and Hu and Ma will be no more deserving of Nobel Peace Prizes than would have been Hitler or Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Premier Edouard Daladier, whom as leaders of ``democratic`` nations, reached agreement with the ``rising`` Germany`s dictator over the heads of the democratic Czechoslovakian government and its president Eduard Benes to expedite annexation disguised as ``peace with honor.``

In our view, if Hu truly wishes to be known as a ``peacemaker,`` he should first dismantle the 1,400 missiles and other offensive weaponry deployed across from Taiwan, revoke the belligerent Anti-Secession Law, cease opposing Taiwan`s membership in all international organizations and drop the ``one China principle`` as the precondition to talks.

For his part, Ma should consult with opposition parties and civil society representatives to formulate a domestic consensus strategy for formal talks with the PRC, affirm that the result of any talks must be ratified by national citizen referendum in Taiwan and reaffirm his opposition to the coercive Anti-Secession Law, cease the illegal KMT-CCP ``dialogue`` and halt unilateral ``deregulation`` measures that would lock Taiwan into the PRC economy and hollow out the Taiwan people`s right of free choice.

Updated : 2021-05-14 08:41 GMT+08:00