Canada must lead in supporting democratic Taiwan
Commentary by Alastair Gordon, president of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, March 15, 2006
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of China's Anti-Secession Act, an act that
legitimized the use of military force by China to impose its will on the 23 million people of democratic Taiwan.
This act is no idle threat, as China now has 800 ballistic missiles aimed at this tiny island to enforce its
Taiwan has never, not even for a day, been part of the People's Republic of China. The people of
Taiwan have repeatedly voted to remain independent from China in fair and open elections. Hence,
China's claim has neither historic nor democratic legitimacy. Yet last year Paul Martin, for reasons he
never explained to Canadians, signed the One China Policy, endorsing the imperialist aims of non-democratic
China over a democratic ally.
The new Conservative government has promised to "articulate Canada's core values of freedom,
democracy, the rule of law, human rights, free trade... on the international stage" (p 44 - Conservative Election Platform).
Canadians are now looking for a change in our policy toward Taiwan to reflect that platform.
What can Prime Minister Harper do to keep his pledge?
- Canada can revoke its endorsement of the One China policy.
- Canada can allow democratically-elected representatives from Taiwan to visit Canada, both as private citizens and as government officials.
- Canada can accept the credentials of Taiwanese diplomatic officials in Canada, rather than have them serve here under the pretence of being economic affairs officials.
- Canada can modify its policy of offering preferential third-world tariffs to a manufacturing giant like China, while charging full rate for Taiwanese imports.
- Canada can end the absurdity of China being our largest recipient of foreign aid. Whose interests are served by sending nearly 60 million hard-earned Canadian tax dollars every year to China, a country with the world's largest army, a GDP over $7 trillion, and 800 missiles aimed at peaceful, democratic Taiwan?
- Canada can support Taiwan's entry into the United Nations. Adding another democratic voice to the UN will be helpful in offsetting the undemocratic majority in the General Assembly.
- Canada can support Taiwan's entry into the World Health Organization, now blocked by China. With its history of open scientific enquiry and innovation, Taiwan is an essential ally in fighting avian flu and other health threats originating in southeast Asia.
Is there an economic risk to normalizing relations with Taiwan? With the balance of trade overwhelmingly
favouring China, any trade retaliation by Beijing would hurt China, not Canada. Canada can do the right thing
with little or no economic consequences.
In 1968, Canadians were proud when Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau announced that he would
break with world opinion and pursue diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. But Trudeau
promised that this new initiative would be without prejudice to Canada's then close relationship with the nation
that today is democratic Taiwan.
Prime Minister Harper has shown that Canada can lead the world in articulating and delivering an
ethical foreign policy. Without the need for military muscle, our recognition that the people of Taiwan
have the same democratic rights as Canadians to determine their future would demonstrate Canada's
independence and project Canadian values to a world that is crying out for such leadership.
Comments are welcomed on the public forum of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies:
Website of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies