Pulling the rug from under Chen

Forty-eight hours after Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan’s embattled president, spoke of drafting a new constitution, he finds his presidency in danger of being cut short by a vote in parliament in light of corruption charges that have implicated his wife and further tarnished his damaged reputation.

It seems that Taiwan’s constitution won’t be frozen and replaced after all.

If Mr. Chen were removed from office, it may be for the best. His election in 2000, which made him the first non-Kuomintang president in Taiwan’s history as the Republic of China, was an encouraging sign of the maturation of Taiwan’s democracy and democracy in region on the whole. But his administration has been unsteady, and threats to move towards formal independence made the situation in the Taiwan Straits ever more unstable.

One would expect that Mr. Chen will be succeeded by a Kuomintang candidate, which would make a return to more stable cross-straits relations, because the Kuomintang — China’s last non-communist ruling party — has little interest in renouncing the Republic of China’s claim to govern all of China and not just a handful of islands off the coast, which would necessarily result from a formal Taiwanese declaration of independence.

Beijing is surely watching the developments in Taipei with great interest (and, no doubt, considerable glee). But China won’t breathe easy until Mr. Chen is gone, whether in the weeks to come or after the March 2008 elections.

One thought on “Pulling the rug from under Chen

  1. The potential for \”Conflict over Taiwan\” is an issue that needs to be addressed carefully. Both Japan and the USA need to re-evaluate their relationships with the PRC, and that re-evaluation has to begin with a clear recognition of each\’s relationship with Taiwan. The US Executive Branch maintains a policy of \”strategic ambiguity\” on the subject of Taiwan\’s international legal status, and that leads everyone to believe that Taiwan is Chinese territory. However, Taiwan IS NOT Chinese territory. China ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895. After WWII, there are absolutely no international legal documents which say that Taiwan has ever been ceded back to China. Certainly, Japanese legal scholars recognize that there was no transfer of title of Formosa and the Pescadores to China in the post-war San Francisco Peace Treaty (SFPT). Finally, the truth of the matter has come out in a new court case filed in Washington D.C. in late October. The sixteen pages of court documents offer a very clear legal rationale to say that under the US Senate-ratified SFPT of 1952, Taiwan is \”an overseas territory under the jurisdiction of the United States of America.\” THEREFORE, reading between the lines, we can immediately see that (1) the Republic of China on Taiwan is a government in exile, (2) there is no basis under international law or US Constitutional law for the Republic of China to maintain a \”Ministry of National Defense\” on Taiwanese soil, and (3) Taiwan territory should fall under the \”common defense\” umbrella of the US Dept. of Defense, as specified in Art. 1, sec. 8 of the US Constition. A summary of the case is here — http://www.taiwankey.net/suit.htm Everyone who is interested in Japan\’s anxiousness at the \”rise of China\” needs to study the legal logic in this important new court case.


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