The status of Taiwan


Sir, – I commend Michael McDowell for his fine article on the situation of Taiwan (“Time to stop kowtowing to China over Taiwan”, Opinion & Analysis, January 15th).

Everything he says confirms what I already knew from living in Taiwan from 1995 to 2010.

Taiwan is a vibrant democracy living in the shadow of a powerful, undemocratic state. As the results of the recent election demonstrate, the Taiwanese are very clear about their status as an independent republic, which is accurately named the Republic of China.

They are further emboldened by the situation in Hong Kong in their belief that conceding sovereignty to the People’s Republic of China would be a big mistake.

Their republic is genuinely democratic along the lines of Ireland’s political set-up. The PRC is an autocratic, communist state, a republic in name only.

During my time in Taiwan, I was often struck by the parallels between Ireland and Taiwan: an open, friendly, but determined, people living in the shadow of a much more powerful nation.

I agree wholeheartedly with Michael McDowell: it behooves us to support the Taiwanese in any way we can.

Given our history, which we have had a lot to say about in recent times, it is shameful that we give our ear to the enemies of democracy, and ignore the democrats. Why not celebrate their achievement? A good opportunity occurs every year on October 10th (Double Ten) when they celebrate their identity as a people, as we do on St Patrick’s Day.

The Government should ignore diplomatic advice to avoid these celebrations so that trade with the PRC is unaffected, and proudly support the valiant Taiwanese.

I hope the new Government has the courage of its convictions. – Yours, etc,



British Columbia,


Sir, – Senator Michael McDowell’s concern for Taiwan, after his election junket visit last week, is touching. I don’t recall him pressing Taiwan’s case for recognition as minister for justice or raising any objections in January 2005 when five of his cabinet colleagues – taoiseach Bertie Ahern, minister for enterprise Micheál Martin, minister for agriculture Mary Coughlan, minister for education Mary Hanafin, and minister for communications Noel Dempsey – headed off to China to build trade links. They were happy to “kowtow” to China, and Mr McDowell was happy to stay silent about Taiwan and oppressed ethnic groups within China. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.