When Two Elephants Are Ready to Fight, ……

An Opening Address for the first East Asia Peace Forum

 

Lu Hsiu-lien Annette

March 3, 2018

Grand Hotel Taipei

 

Premier Lai Ching-te, Honorable members of parliaments, distinguished Ambassadors, scholars, ladies and gentlemen:

Hearty welcome to Taipei's Grand Hotel to ring the bell of peace for East Asia. Much thanks to Premier Lai to address the opening of the First East Asia Peace Forum.

As a matter of fact, the first bell of peace for the Korean Peninsula was rung by President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea when he opened the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on February 9th, invited and facilitated the participation of North Korea.

In the year of 2017, the region was over-shadowed by danger of nuclear war as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un engaged in nuclear sabre rattling and President Donald Trump twitted his counter threat. In his 2017 New Year's Day speech, Kim claimed that his country was in the last stage of preparation to test-fire an inter-continental ballistic missile and would continue to strengthen its ability based on nuclear might to mount a preemptive attack.

To respond, President Trump said at the United Nations that the U.S. would totally destroy North Korea if necessary. In addition to harsher diplomatic and economic sanctions, the US has all plans in place for North Korea's nuclear threat, including military options.

Then, the game changed suddenly in 2018. North Korea’s Kim in his New Year's Day speech took up President Moon's offer and agreed to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics, ushering in a thaw in the South-North relations. The North Korean delegation consists of 22 athletes, "cheer leaders," and a sing-and-dance art troupe led by Ms. Hyon Song-wol, a charming singer highly popular in South Korea. Kim also dispatched his sister Ms Kim Yo-jong to deliver a letter, inviting President Moon to visit for a summit meeting.

President Moon's statesmanship and brilliant initiative deserves compliments. He repeatedly vows to prevent use of force on the Korean Peninsula. President Moon's initiative and skillful maneuver to promote peace and shape the development of Korean Peninsula is both admirable and instructive. It touches my heart, indeed it strikes a strong responsive cord in Taiwan. People in Taiwan want to be the master of their own destiny and do not wish to be annexed by Communist.

Historically, Taiwan was never a part of China. The Manchus conquered and ruled

China and Taiwan in the 17th century, but in 1895 the Manchu Ching government ceded Taiwan to Japan in perpetuity as a result of the Ching-Japan War in 1894. Japan's colonial rule of Taiwan lasted until 1945 when the Second World War ended and the Supreme-commander of the Allied Powers authorized Chiang Kai-shek to accept Japan's surrender in Taiwan. Whereas the KMT seized control of Taiwan unlawfully thereafter, the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty did not stipulate to whom Taiwan should be returned; if the UN regulations were observed, Taiwan should have been allowed to seek self-determination.

KMT's brutal and authoritarian colonial rule continued till the martial law was lifted in 1987. In 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to which I belong, won the presidential election. For eight years, I served as viced-president in Taiwan's government led by President Chen Shui-bien. In 2016 the DPP was back in power with Dr. Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan's first female president.

Beyond the Taiwan Strait, the People’s Republic of China claims to own Taiwan, but it has never ruled Taiwan. It asserts that the UN Resolution 2758 has recognized China's sovereignty over Taiwan, and mislead the world to exclude Taiwan from the UN and the international community. In fact, the Resolution doesn't even mention Taiwan at all!

Taiwan matters. If Taiwan were a member of the UN, it would rank 135 in size among the 193 UN member-states, 55th in population, and much higher in the index such as democracy, economic strength, gender equality, comprehensive national power, level of globalization and global competitiveness. To many international observers, Taiwan's vibrant and open society is a beacon of freedom and democracy to China and the developing world. Taiwan as a democratic polity is a reality, and people's quest for independence and dignified international identity should be respected.

In recent years concerned Taiwanese opinion leaders have launched a crusade to promote Taiwan's peace and neutrality via referendum. They hope to emulate Switzerland and Sweden which maintain remarkable self-defense capability. The campaign represents a courageous effort of Taiwanese people to shape and determine their own destiny as well as a preventive defense strategy to counter China's ambition to annex Taiwan.

Some commentators have described the 21st century as the Century of Asia. What will be its main feature? Inevitable war between the American Eagle and the Chines Dragon, seeking to seize the global leadership? In December 2017, President Trump unveiled his first National Security Strategy report which defines China as the principal threat to America's interests, values and influence and put forth the Indo-Pacific strategy to contain China's expansionism in the East and South China Seas and counter Chinese hegemony.

Climate change has become a global issue. There are considerable discussions on ways and means to rescue the earth and the oceans. Is it possible for civic groups and policy-makers to take a lesson from the spirit and wisdom of the 1959 Antarctica Treaty?

The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activities on that continent. The treaty has  been a resounding success as 50 countries have signed. Thus the Antarctica is preserved, free from sovereignty claim and human exploitation. Can’t we work out a Treaty of East Asia to preserve the disputed marine area and to safeguard the stability in the region?

 

The African proverb says that when two big elephants fight, it is the grass that is trampled most and small animals better run away. But we go nowhere, my dear neighbors of Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Instead of being trampled, why don’t we as good neighbors help and protect one another?

Japan has become a prosperous democracy since the end of World War II. Their peace constitution in a way provides Japan a status of armed neutrality. With the talents of people and rich cultural heritage, both Japan and Korea shall work closer as good neighbors in the future, despite their historical resentment in the past.

We also have a close and important neighbor, the Philippines which inherited a culture and history so different in East Asia. After decades of struggle, the Philippines has gone through authoritarianism and poverty and has become a vigorous democracy as well. With thousand islands and rich marine resources, the Philippines shall play a pivotal role for peace and security in the region, especially at the South China Sea.

The East Asia Peace Forum is thus initiated and proceeded. Thank you for all your participation coming from South Africa, Europe, America, other than the neighboring countries.

Special thanks for the ardent support of Dr. Yoo Joon Sang, founder of South Korea’s 21st Century Economic and Social Research Institute, as well as Dr. Bruno Kaufmann from the Swiss Democracy Foundation. Dr. Yoo is eager to have your support to conduct the 2nd Peace Forum in Seoul in the near future. Hopefully our good neighbors from Japan and the Philippines may wish to host this Peace Forum afterwards, making it a true network for peace in the region.

Peace is not just God’s blessing; peace is also an enterprise that deserves good investment and preservation. While some people are eager to encourage to upgrade arms sales, we as peace makers have to build up a network to prevent war and to safeguard peace in this region. Let’s cherish it and invest it before too late.

Thank you and enjoy your stay in Taipei!

 

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