The interview was published on December 15. 2008. The interviewer was journalist Zou, Jing Wen from Liberty Times.
Q: Can you introduce the motivation for establishing Taiwan Corner in Denmark?
A:Taiwan Corner came to my mind a late Friday evening while I was enjoying a glass of good red wine with some close friends who share my interest for Taiwan. I had already been writing articles about Taiwan in the newspapers, and in my political life I had been provoked several times like my friends. We had to listen to one-sided and highly respected commentators, politicians and professors talking about the one-China policy like Taiwan is just a brick in a game chess that you can move around without thinking about the people of Taiwan. It is even worse that they appear to lack basic knowledge of Taiwanese history and current affairs.
In order to understand the level, let me give you an example. A highly respected sinologist in Denmark once said that Taiwanese are Chinese because they speak Chinese, and thus that is logic that Taiwan shall be part of China. This is of course absurd. If we use this kind of logic, then Singapore should also be a part of China.
We were convinced that we could do a much better job and give a more correct picture of Taiwan, and we have rather successful doing this.
Taiwan displays the hypocrisy of the West. The reason is that Taiwan put the European Union and US governments in a moral and political dilemma. Both support democracy and human rights but only to a point. In their hearts they support Taiwan but their pragmatic politics drags them to China which they are afraid of.
I have a strong believer in the universality of human right and democracy. Personally I believe that the people of Taiwan have the right to choose a free and independent Taiwan.
Q:About the political parties’ changing after May in Taiwan, what are your opinions and observation? Especially about cross-strait relations’ changing?
A:I am happy to see a peaceful change of government in Taiwan for the second time. That is a part of democracy. The problem however is that Taiwan is not a normal democracy because the main politicians do not share a common future for Taiwan. Denmark does not have such a fundamental problem. Therefore, a change of government means a lot more than economic policies and ideology. It means that Taiwan is moving closer to China or moving closer to independence. With the current government Taiwan is clearly moving fast toward China.
All serious politicians like to see dialog and normalization of the relationship between China and Taiwan. This includes me. What people disagree about is how many concessions do you like to make and what shall be the terms of negotiations. The whole foundation of these talks is worrying. The current negotiations are based on the so-called 1992 consensus where both Taiwan and China agrees that there is one China. This is fundamental. You actually state that Taiwan is a part of China and use this as a starting point of negotiations. This weakens Taiwan’s sovereignty and runs against the wishes of the Taiwanese people who do not want to be a part of China.
It is my clear impression that Denmark and the EU supports dialog between Taiwan and China and they have a strong believe that the current relation is healthy and improving for the common good. There is strong hope that Taiwan and China will obtain peace. However, do not make a mistake and a wrong interpretation. They are not that concerned about the Taiwanese people as with good relations with China. Denmark and the other European countries have not changed their one-china policy. They will be happy if the Taiwan problem disappears and they will not mind a Hong Kong solution for Taiwan. This is not my own opinion but many countries in EU will accept this if Taiwan and China agrees on it. I do not support this.
For many reason Taiwanese people voted for a better economy during a KMT government. I can understand this, and Ma also promised a pro-Taiwan policy. So there existed many good reasons for voting for Ma and KMT. If we look at the situation now, the economy is deteriorating but the government is not in full control because it is also a global issue. However, Ma has total control of his Taiwan and China policy. So why is he not following his promise of a pro-Taiwan policy? A lot of people must feel betrayed.
Q:Chen Yunlin’s visiting Taiwan in November , but there were many strong demostration and protesting during Mr. Chen’s visiting. What do you see from this event as a foreigner? Is there anything you like to remind us?
I see a Taiwan that has changed in the last 6 months. Looking at the visit as an isolated event, it is pleasure to see dialog between China and Taiwan. However, the tricky things are always found in the details. And what I see is a Taiwan that is divided, loosing sovereignty and being criticized internationally. What I see now it not the Taiwan I used to know.
The 1992 consensus is a fundamental change in policy as I have mentioned earlier. But you see similar changes in regards to please China when the postal system changed name and when President Ma is not to being addressed by his official title. Because of the title issue, it would have been better not to meet Chen Yunlin because it may be misused later by China.
During the visit, I have been deeply disturbed by the police taking national flags from Taiwanese. The world does not accept your national flag and now you cannot show it in Taiwan. This is disturbing. Also, the famous incident about the record store that was prohibited from playing Taiwanese music and the fuzzy rules for journalists appears unusual for Taiwan.
It seems more important to dance to the music of China instead of the people of Taiwan who consider Taiwan their home. From abroad it is hard to see why China should save Taiwan economically when it is well known that Taiwanese businesses are moving out of China and the economic integration between China and Taiwan during the last 8 years has already expanded significantly. My suggestion is to focus much more on Taiwan’s knowledge economic, creativity, educate unemployed such that they can take new type of jobs and focus more broadly on export.
Taiwanese are proud of Taiwan’s democracy. But now Taiwan is being criticized for violating for example press freedom. Also, both before and after the visit of Chen Yunlin, international organizations and individuals have been criticizing press freedom, arrests and the actions from police during the Chen Yunlin’s visit. Even Amnesty International has been vocal. This type of critic you have to take extremely serious and use it to improve the conditions because this will give you a much better impression in the world. The best critique comes from your friends who speak open and honest to you.
Ma is talking about a one China consisting of a China area and a Taiwan area. Others are talking about independence. The division cannot be more fundamental, can it?
There are a lot foreigners and associations watching Taiwan these days. Do not lose your brand as a democratic and free star in Asia.
Q:President said that it is not a properly time for De’lai lama to visit Taiwan, what is your opinion about this?
A:Of course the De’lai lama shall be able to visit Taiwan. Other democratic nations like Denmark and EU accept his visits. Ma says that it is not a good time to visit in the current situation. My answer is that is never good. China will always complain. If Ma has troubles with him then he could state that he will not meet him but say that Taiwan is democratic and therefore he is welcome to Taiwan. This is not the first time that Ma says something before the election and act opposite after the election.
Democratic nations, including Taiwan, have to stick to the fundamental values in order to lead the way to a democratic future.
Q:President Ma also mentioned about”Diplomatic Truce ” , How do you criticize about this policy? Do you think it can get the positive response from China?
A:Taiwan will not get more international space. That is totally naïve. The reason is that Taiwan is a democracy and maybe the next president will be from the DPP. China cannot run the risk that a DPP president will use any expansion of international recognitions to obtain more international recognition. This runs against the wishes of China.
However, it seems that Taiwan will get closer relations with WHO in 2009. This will hopefully be good for the health system in Taiwan but it will not improve Taiwan’s international space since you will not be recognized as a country or something that even resembles this. Some will interpret close relation to WHO as a big victory but it will not really matter much in terms of international recognition. The West will try to support you in this.
The main point is that China will not stop pressuring Taiwan until Taiwan is a part of the People Republic of China.
Q: China is hoping to sign CEPA and peace agreement in order to reunite the economy and politics in Taiwan. What do you look at this?
It will be better if Taiwan can establish FTA with any country in world. I am convinced that a CEPA will not help Taiwan getting any FTA. CEPA is not a country to country agreement in contrast to FTA.
A peace agreement is only worth a signature if China abolishes the ridiculous anti-secession law and allows the Taiwanese people a free choice for Taiwan’s future. A removal of missiles does not matter much since they can be easily reestablished.
Q:Taiwan is always excluded and isolated from UN. There is a big gap between two sides of the Strait when talking about the “country power”. How can Taiwan to be better in order to gain the international supporting?
Yes, there is a big gap between the two sides of strait and that will not change. China will never allow you to be independent until China becomes democratic – if that happens. China will continue to strangle Taiwan until you surrender to China. If China becomes democratic, it may happen very unexpectedly or very late such that I will not be able to experience it. In that case, the Chinese maybe told the right story about Taiwan. As it is today, I have read Chinese history books, Chinese are told a big lie about Taiwan’s history. Unfortunately, many Taiwanese do not know they own history even though they have access to the truth.
Two things come to my mind in order to gain international support. First, you have to agree internally about the future of Taiwan. As it is today you are strongly divided, this weakens you. If you are united you are stronger. And the second, Taiwan shall continue to embrace and improve democracy and human rights. Doing this Taiwan will get sympathy from the people of Denmark and EU and it will become clearer that Taiwan is treated unfairly.
More specifically, you have to expand international networks at all levels with international associations and individuals that support Taiwan’s case and can put Taiwan’s forward to newspapers, governments and organizations.
Q: Taiwan’s two biggest parties are very different direction about Taiwan’s position to China’s policies and strategies. As a friend of Taiwan, what are your suggestions?
Denmark has a long tradition for dialog among politicians across political parties. Taiwan needs more of this kind of dialog. I hope that the political elite or at least some in the political elite will have the courage to sit down across political parties and agree on Taiwan’s future. This will unite Taiwan and Taiwan will gain a much stronger voice and appeal internationally. And you will get peace at home.
My suggestion is that the Taiwanese people demand this and demand that the politicians take the concerns of Taiwanese seriously.
Q: Is there anything that you like to say ?
The Taiwanese news media needs to act as the forth power in the society. My Chinese is very limited but from my observations during the last 8 years, my many visits to Taiwan, and from the translations I have received, it clear to me that Taiwan has too many TV news station with a too low quality and with an extremely biased view to one side or the other party. It is hard for me to understand how journalists can take their work seriously. If you get better TV news you may get a more informed debate about important matters. For instance, A-bian is all over the TV news. It seems that nothing else is happening in Taiwan that A-bian. However, there are more important things than A-bian.
The interview was published on December 15. 2008. The interviewer was journalist Zou, Jing Wen from Liberty Times.