Note: The following video and text are a speech I delivered for a public speaking assessment on April 14, 2009. The text shows the speech, as prepared, and the video, as delivered.
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Kenton Chance and this afternoon I am going to tell you about “A Country in Isolation”.
Imagine for a moment an island of 36,000 square kilometres and 23 million citizens. They elect their own government and maintain diplomatic relations with other countries.
Having studied politics, most of us would readily identify that island as a country. There is territory, population, sovereignty and government.
Imagine further having a superpower deny your sovereignty and target your island with more than a thousand missiles. This oppressive regime blocks your participation in international organisations.
You need not stretch your imagination too far. We are in that country! That country is Taiwan!
The people of Taiwan have found themselves in a very undesirable situation. They are mostly proud of their Taiwanese citizenship until one asks the deflating question, “Is Taiwan a country?”
The Republic of China — Taiwan — was established in 1912. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949 when the Kuomintang moved to Taiwan, having lost the Chinese Civil War to the communists.
Having said that, I am not here to give you a lesson on the history of relations between China and Taiwan. I am here to tell you that while China claims Taiwan as part of its territory under its “one China principle”, I firmly believe that the 23 million people of Taiwan have every right to decide their own destiny.
The United States Declaration of Independence declares, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creatorwith certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This contrasts to what Sha Zu Kang (沙祖康), then Chinese Ambassador to United Nations (Geneva) told the BBC in 2006:
“It is not a matter of how big Taiwan is, how useful it is. But for China, one inch of the territory is more valuable than life of our people, we are never concede on that.”
As Nobel Laureate Betty Williams said in a speech here in Taipei in March 2007 the world should bark at China for its human rights violation and its attitude towards Taiwan, but China’s cheap goods and money have silenced many.
Dr. David Huang of Academia Sinica, Taiwan said at an international peace festival here in January that between 1992 and 2007 the number of people who identify themselves as purely Taiwanese increased from 12 to 47 percent whereas Chinese identity decreases from 15 to less than 6 percent.
Political analysts Taiwanese Dr. Emily Chou told me last week that she believes that if there were no threat of violence from China the majority of Taiwan’s youth and many older citizens will opt for de jure independence.
In a case arguing that the US is Taiwan’s principal occupying power based on the San Francisco Peace Treaty, an American judge last week said, “America and China’s tumultuous relationship over the past sixty years has trapped the inhabitants of Taiwan in political purgatory.
“…In practical terms, this means they have uncertain status in the world community which infects the population’s day to day lives.”
The people of Taiwan deserve better. Indeed, they deserve to be free from China’s tyranny. They deserve to live free of the constant treat of 1000 missiles aimed at them and participate fully in the international community.
But, I imagine that United States founding father George Washington was right: “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder”.
Thank you very much.