Taiwan Autonomy



Taiwan’s sovereignty issue

The Republic of China (ROC) national flag was raised almost every year in every US city in which a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) is located, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and more. Every TECO delivered the same message to overseas Chinese year after year since World War II — that they work on behalf of the nation of the ROC, the free China established by ROC founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙). The issue is that their message has been out of date since 1978.

On Jan.1, after the flag-raising at Twin Oaks Estate in Washington, Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said his office had notified the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) about the event beforehand and received approval from US President Barack Obama’s administration. He said with pride that: “We not only returned, but we did it with dignity, respect and honor.”

Shen’s remark was endorsed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

However, on Tuesday last week, after Shen returned to Taipei and told media outlets his office had not informed the AIT in advance about the flag-raising, but it had been his intention to do so, and that he had informed the US government afterward and they understood.

Well, it is not true. A senior official in Obama’s administration strongly denied the approval or knowing in advance of the flag-raising. US Department of State spokesperson Jan Psaki condemned the flag-raising twice within a week, saying it was inconsistent with the spirit of US policy.

AIT spokesperson Mark Zimmer gave a terse and clear statement: (1) We reiterate that [the US] did not approve or know about the Jan. 1 flag-raising in advance.(2) We are disappointed with this action, and we have raised our serious concerns with senior Taiwan authorities in Taipei and Washington. (3) It is our hope that Taiwan will demonstrate the priority it puts on the US-Taiwan relationship by ensuring that these kinds of things do not happen again.

In Taiwan most legislators and the majority of the public endorsed raising the flag. The prevalent attitude was that Twin Oaks Estate is Taiwan’s sovereign property, so why should the flag not be raised on national property? To this question, Psaki gave a clear answer: “The Twin Oaks Estate is a representative compound; it’s not a private home.”

What a shame that Shen, as a diplomat, does not know that his job is to maintain the relationship between Taiwan and the US, and not to say that we have returned with dignity, respect and honor.

The ROC flag does not represent Taiwan. It cannot be seen at any international occasion, such as the Olympic Games. Because it represents the exiled government of the ROC it does not represent Taiwan. Shen should study the three communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. Taiwan is not the ROC and the ROC is not Taiwan.

So, what flag should be allowed to fly over Twin Oaks Estate and officially in Taiwan? It relates to the “status quo” of Taiwan today. Is it an independent country with sovereignty?

Popular sovereignty — electing governmental officials or even presidents — does not equate to territorial sovereignty. Territorial sovereignty is transferred from government to government. The last sovereign ruler of Taiwan was Japan. Who is the sovereign ruler of the nation today?

How to transfer it to Taiwan? That is a serious project for all Taiwanese this year.

John Hsieh

Hayward, California