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China y Taiwan

by Eduardo Morgan Jr.

February 2008

This past January 12, Taiwan held its parliamentary elections. President Chen Shui Bian’s Democratic Progressive Party, which advocates the independence of Taiwan and its participation as an independent State in the United Nations, suffered a catastrophic electoral defeat in said elections at the hands of the Kuomintang (KMT), the party that supports a “One China” policy. The KMT won 81 out of the 113 seats in Parliament, against only 27 seats for the President’s party. So embarrassing was the defeat, that President Chen Shui Bian was left with no other option but to accept responsibility for such an electoral beating and resign from the leadership of the party.

The result of the elections clearly demonstrates that the Chinese people of Taiwan do not want the independence advocated by President Chen. On the contrary, they wish to tighten the bonds with mainland China to the point of reaching a total reunification, within the framework of the offer made by the People’s Republic of China of “one China and two systems,” similar to what occurred with Hong Kong a little over ten years ago.

The Taiwanese people will be able to keep the free market economy and democratic systems they adopted many years ago, a fact that  is looked upon favorably by the United States.

The recovery of Taiwan is the final link in the long struggle of the Chinese people to complete the reunification of the territories that were occupied by the colonial powers that obtained great advantages and enormous profits during the XIX century and at the beginning of the last-century. Hong Kong reintegrated itself into the Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and so did Macao in 1999.

Snatched from China by Japan in 1895, Taiwan returned to China in 1945, at the conclusion of the Second World War. In 1949, the defeated government of Chiang Kai-shek – the Kuomintang – took refuge in the island along with its army and established its new capital in Taipei, always under the argument that it represented China as a whole. The Cold War determined that the United States would become Chiang Kai-shek’s protector, and its powerful naval forces safeguarded him from an eventual invasion by the legitimate Government. Additionally, he used his influence in the United Nations to maintain the fiction that the Government in Taipei represented all of China, thus preventing the People’s Republic from occupying its rightful place in the world organization.

 However, on October 25, 1971, by decision of the majority of the General Assembly, Taiwan was expelled from the Organization and China went on to occupy the place that legally belongs to it. Without leaving Taiwan unprotected, the United States established diplomatic relations with China, officially recognized the principle of “One China”, limited its relations with Taiwan to simple trade relations and since then has advocated a peaceful reunification.

It is difficult to conceive that in the 58 years that elapsed since that first day of October, 1949 when Mao Zedong, victorious in the civil war, proclaimed the rebirth of his country, which had been impoverished and disjointed due to more than a century of hardship, internal decomposition, occupations, and by vile foreign exploitation – the Opium Wars come to mind – China has finally been rebuilt on the basis of its millenarian culture and the spiritual strength of its people, in order to shine once again as a great Nation, for the benefit of the Chinese people and all humankind.

It is hard to believe, we repeat, that Mao’s prophecy is a reality today and that China has been reborn as one of the most important and influential countries in the planet. China is, as is stands today, the world power that not only preaches respect for the sovereignty of all countries, but also practices what it preaches through an absolute non-interventionist policy and trade relations framed within the principle of mutual respect, without trying to take advantage of its great wealth and enormous economic power to exploit weak countries.

The January elections marked the beginning of the countdown towards the peaceful reincorporation of Taiwan and anticipate the moment when the world will join the Chinese people and their government to celebrate that event. Within this inexorable process, Panama must not be a mere spectator and, but it is obligated, for historical reasons, to contribute to just such a peaceful reincorporation. Let us remember that, of all the countries in the Americas, we were the last to obtain full independence when the Torrijos- Carter Treaties eliminated the American enclave located in the center of our territory and the military bases that offended our dignity and asphyxiated our country.

China contributed to this with its active participation in the historic meeting of the  Security Council in Panama City in 1973 when, through its representative, Huang Hua, it publicly stated its support to the Panamanian government’s position. The United States was forced to veto the resolution that condemned its presence in Panama, which prompted our then Foreign Relations Minister, Juan Antonio Tack, to summarize in one historic phrase the feeling prevailing in the room: “The United States vetoed the draft resolution in support of the Panamanian cause, but the entire world vetoed the United States.”

In view of all the foregoing, it is difficult to understand why the sons of Omar Torrijos and Gabriel Lewis, two of the most important persons involved in the negotiation and subsequent ratification of the treaties that completed our independence and who climbed the last step of the generational struggle, have not yet taken advantage of their positions as the ones currently entrusted with Panamanian diplomacy, to recognize the one and true China and, instead, allow Panama to still be a part of the ever-shrinking group of underdeveloped countries that, for purely chrematistic interests, still cling to the historical and legal anachronism of recognizing the Island of Taiwan as the representative of the more than one billion Chinese people.

There is still time to rectify this and the time is now, when the people of Taiwan have sent the world such a clear message.

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