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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Anachronistic land claims must go

Anachronistic land claims must go

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Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) on Monday called on the military to alter insignia containing the outdated Republic of China (ROC) “begonia” map used by some of its branches.

The proposal to change the insignia is the latest move by the DPP to “desinicize” Taiwan, after it renamed the nation’s postal service, redesigned the cover of the passport and the imagery on China Airlines aircraft, reduced content about China’s history in national curricula and renamed overseas representative offices.

With polls showing that Taiwanese overwhelmingly identify as “Taiwanese” and not “Chinese,” there is nothing wrong with these changes in principle, but they fail to get at the root of the problem.

When Army Lieutenant General Fang Mao-hung (房茂宏) responded to Hsu during a session of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, he said that the use of the map in the insignia was in accordance with the national territory described in the Constitution.

Hsu is correct to be concerned about the nation’s military having the maps of other nations in their insignia, but Fang is also correct in saying that the insignia are in line with the Constitution.

Therein lies the problem.

Modifying the Constitution to remove references to China, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Macau and other areas that are not under the administration of the ROC is a band-aid that Taiwan absolutely must tear off no matter how much it hurts.

Not only will the ROC government never administer the territory under the administration of China — which almost every Taiwanese would have no interest in even if it were possible — but it is insulting to Mongolians for Taiwan to claim that country as part of its territory.

Even Beijing makes no claims to Mongolia.

Another reason for removing such unrealistic territorial claims is that, as Fang said on Monday, the military is “loyal to the Constitution.”

Since retired air force general Hsia Ying-chou (夏瀛洲) last month defended Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, it is possible that other top-level military officials feel similarly — and they could hardly be faulted given the claims in the Constitution.

What if the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were to attack and Taiwanese generals refused to respond on the grounds that its actions were constitutional?

The Constitution also puts allies in a difficult situation. To recognize the Republic of China, Taiwan, they must entertain ridiculous territorial claims.

Arguably, the DPP is focused on the wrong issues when it comes to Taiwanese identity and a national consciousness. There is nothing wrong with recognizing the Chinese aspects of Taiwanese identity, nor is there any real problem with the nation being called the “Republic of China.” There are two Koreas and there were once two Vietnams. There are also many aspects of Canadian and US identity that are drawn from their British backgrounds.

However, the big issue with regard to Taiwanese identity and the nation’s diplomatic efforts is its unrealistic, anachronistic territorial claims.

The DPP should propose a referendum to remove references to China and other areas not under the nation’s administration from the Constitution. If the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) can hold referendums on highly controversial issues, why not the DPP?

If Taiwanese were to vote “yes” to remove the references, then hardline KMT supporters could hardly argue against it.

After all, Taiwan is a democracy.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2021/12/15


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