Taiwan and Ireland
Sir, – I would like to congratulate one of the most progressive democracies in the world as its national day of celebration approaches today (October 10th). Having lived in Taiwan for 15 years, I am well aware that Taiwan is a genuine and passionate democracy. I witnessed several elections while I lived there and was struck by how advanced the political system is in representing the will of the people.
As an Irishman I felt and still feel an affinity with the Taiwanese people, who also live in the shadow of an economically more powerful neighbour.
In addition, I would like to apologise to my Taiwanese friends for the attitude of the Irish Government towards their country. I was disturbed to see an article in your newspaper (“Ministers told not to attend Taiwan national day event”, September 29th) relating that Department of Foreign Affairs officials strongly advise Ministers not to accept invitations to celebrate their national day.
In a year in which our Government has so loudly affirmed with words the values of those who fought to establish the Irish Republic, I would be very sad if the Government in practise denies these values in refusing to support a democratic republic in a fragile and isolated situation. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I was very disappointed when I read that Irish Ministers were advised not to celebrate Taiwan’s national day. There are many reasons why we need to look again at Ireland’s position regarding the two Chinas. We appear to take the side of the larger People’s Republic of China at the expense of Taiwan, the Republic of China.
First, Ireland should accept the principle of self-determination whereby Taiwan wants to remain independent of its neighbouring communist People’s Republic. That right of self-determination should be supported by Ireland, and the right of Taiwan to exist as a country should be recognised by Ireland.
Second, Ireland should remember from its own history how small countries can be overwhelmed politically and militarily by larger neighbours, and should think carefully before supporting the larger, more powerful and more aggressive China.
Third, the issues involved in the creation of the two Chinas are now historic, and Ireland should not make judgments on which China is more worthy of recognition than the other. There is no rational reason not to officially recognise Taiwan. Taiwan has proven itself to be a peace-loving, non-aggressive, hard-working and prosperous nation, and on this basis alone should be recognised by Ireland.
I am suspicious that Ireland recognises the larger People’s Republic of China for the grubby reason that it is a larger, wealthier country from which it can profit mainly through trade but also through other areas such as tourism. – Yours, etc,
Tankardstown, Co Meath.