Taiwan or Republic of China? Taiwan’s Democracy Brought Up In Roundtable Discussion In Europe

Taiwan or Republic of China? Taiwan’s Democracy Brought Up In Roundtable Discussion In Europe

What you need to know

According to Taiwan Corner, this is the first time within the past three years that Taiwan’s democracy has been discussed formally in Europe.

Translated and compiled by Kelly Lai

For the first time in the past three years, Taiwan’s democracy was discussed formally on an international scale in Brussels on March 15. The roundtable conference, hosted by Taiwan Corner and the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group, focused on social movements, Cross-Strait relations, Taiwan’s democracy, and how the new president would affect the nation’s future development.

The chairman of Taiwan Corner and the host of this roundtable discussion, Michael Danielsen, stated that the motivation of this conference was the result of the 2016 presidential election. Plus, social movements in the past few years, such as the Sunflower Movement and the Anti-Black Box Curriculum Movement, drew European officials’ attention on events happening in Taiwan internally.

People who were invited to the roundtable conference included, Lin Fei-fan, representing The Black Island Nation Youth Front, Dr. Alice Ekman, researcher from French Institute of International Relations, and one representative from the KMT.

Two weeks prior to the meeting, the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium contacted the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group, saying that the name of the roundtable discussion cannot display Taiwan as a sovereign democracy by any means.

According to Liberty Times Net, local Belgian officials attempted to block off Dr. Malte Kaeding, one of the main speakers. Kaeding is an expert on social movements that took place in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Taiwan Corner decided to cancel the conference if Kaeding couldn’t attend. Kaeding changed the topic of his speech from “Taiwan—becoming a sovereign democracy” to “Republic of China on Taiwan — a successful, lively democracy” for a final compromise.

Lin also questioned members of the European parliament about their governments claiming themselves in support of peaceful Cross-Strait relations and Taiwan’s democracy, but at the same time continuing to emphasize the idea of “One China.”

In response to Lin’s query, Charles Tannock, Member of the European Parliament for London for the Conservative Party, said that even though he supports Taiwan as an independent country, this kind of proposition would be very likely to cause a devastating price.

“We desire peace, but not at the price of freedom. International discourse rarely takes the views of the Taiwanese people into account. This is unfair and unwise,” said Lin.

Danielsen proposed that he personally believes “Republic of China on Taiwan” cannot fully represent Taiwan and the name confuses Europeans. Danielsen hopes that the DPP, which is taking office in May, would hold more related conferences in the future to simulate mutual understanding and interdependence.

Edited by Olivia Yang

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