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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibet: Taiwan Strengthens Bonds with Tibet

September 20, 2007

Source: Office of the President, Taiwan
UNPO 2007-09-19

In the opening speech of the International Symposium on Human Rights in
Tibet, Taiwan’s President Chen has restated his government’s recognition
of Tibet as a separate entity from China, hoping to further cooperation
after decades of a ‘delicate’ relationship.

Below is a speech by President Chen of Taiwan:

Vice President McMillan-Scott of the European Parliament; Director
Ackerly of International Campaign for Tibet; President Fautre of Human
Rights without Frontiers International; Chairman Hsu of the Mongolian
and Tibetan Affairs Commission; Distinguished Guests; Dear Friends from
Tibet; Human Rights and Tibet Advocates; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good Morning!

It is a great pleasure to have been invited to attend the 2007
International Symposium on Human Rights in Tibet. Participants in this
conference include Tibetan friends from all over the world;
representatives of Tibet; support groups and human rights organizations
from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, India,
Mexico, Sweden, Norway and Japan; and overseas Chinese democracy
activists. This symposium has provided a rare opportunity for each of
you to visit Taiwan. On behalf of the government and 23 million people
of Taiwan, I would like to start by sincerely welcoming to Taiwan all of
our friends from home and abroad who care about human rights in Tibet. I
would also like to express our highest respect for your long-standing
commitment to improving human rights in Tibet.

The relationship between Taiwan and Tibet is a delicate one.
Historically speaking, there had been little contact between the two
sides until the Kuomintang (KMT) government moved to Taiwan. As the KMT
viewed Tibet as a part of the Republic of China, Taiwan was thereby
indirectly linked to Tibet. However, such a relationship has never
received wide acknowledgement among Taiwanese or Tibetans. As more and
more Taiwanese people now recognize that the territory of this country
covers only such islands as Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu, they also
are increasingly aware that Tibet has never been a part of their country.

Therefore, our government structure of eight ministries and two
commissions as stipulated in the Constitution has long been outdated. We
need to review and adjust the role and function of the Mongolian and
Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) promptly and comprehensively. Although
government restructuring has yet to be completed, we have taken active
steps to transform the MTAC into an organization to promote relations
with these ethnic groups.

In 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader,
defied a political taboo by visiting Taiwan, thereby breaking the ice
for Tibet and Taiwan. In 2001, the Dalai Lama visited Taiwan again and
met with me.

Regardless of China's oppression and intimidation, the Dalai Lama
expressed in our meeting his firm belief that Taiwan's future should be
decided by the people of Taiwan. I profoundly admire the Dalai Lama's
faith in humankind's free will and right to choose values. That visit
not only enhanced mutual understanding and deepened the friendship
between Taiwan and Tibet, but also helped consolidate the cordial
relations between the Tibetan government-in-exile and the Taiwan government.

During the inauguration conference of the Taiwan-Tibet Exchange
Foundation in 2003, I announced our new policy and emphasized that the
Taiwan government will no longer treat people of the Tibetan
government-in-exile as Chinese people. Instead, we will handle our
relations with Tibet and China separately under this fresh perspective
on our relations with Tibet.

Our new policy has helped resolve many problems troubling the exchanges
between the peoples of Taiwan and Tibet over the years.

Today, Tibet and Taiwan share a common plight due to intimidation from a
hegemonic China. That is why Taiwan's 23 million people can empathize
with the suffering Tibetan people. It is because we understand the
feelings of the Tibetans that we firmly support them and wish them the
best in their pursuit of self-determination. We also unreservedly
respect any decision the Dalai Lama makes on the future of Tibet. I
sincerely hope that closer cooperation can be fostered between Taiwan
and the Tibetan government-in-exile, and that we can support and
encourage each other's quest for freedom, peace, and human rights.

Taiwan and Tibet represent global endeavors to confront an authoritarian
China and the fight for freedom under the shadow of China's military
threats. We also form a litmus test for measuring the international
community's commitment to protecting human rights. If even the
democratic, peace-loving government of Taiwan and the Tibetan
government-in-exile are made subject to China's military threats, the
international society truly has little reason left to continue harboring
illusions about China.

China attempts to demonstrate its might and promote its image by hosting
the 2008 Olympic Games. However, China continues to fail to improve its
human rights record and just hopes to use the glamour of the Olympic
Games to whitewash its prevalent human rights problems. It even seeks to
prohibit foreign journalists from freely conducting interviews and
uncovering the truth. By the same token, Beijing sets up absurd
regulations that infringe on human rights, such as a ban on 43
categories of people from entering China during the Olympics. The 2008
Olympic Games could easily end up making a total mockery of the goals to
preserve human dignity and respect universal fundamental ethical
principles as espoused in the Olympic Charter.

I would like to reiterate that, based on the friendship and common
interests shared by the Taiwan government and the Tibetan
government-in-exile, Taiwan will continue to support the Tibetan people
in safeguarding their fundamental human rights and fighting for their
right to self-determination. Taiwan will resolutely respect any solution
proposed by the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibet problem. I also hope
that the Dalai Lama will accept our invitation to visit Taiwan again, so
that we can further strengthen exchange and cooperation between Taiwan
and Tibet, and pray and fight together for the peace, freedom, and human
rights of the peoples of Tibet and Taiwan.

In closing, on behalf of the people and government of Taiwan, I would
like to once again welcome all the distinguished guests and thank the
host and organizers of the conference for their hard work. I am
convinced that freedom, peace, and human rights stand side by side with
justice and truth, and that, as long as we work with the same mindset,
the international community and people across the globe will eventually
commend and support our efforts. I wish this symposium every success and
our distinguished guests and friends good health and happiness. Thank you!

Source: Office of the President, Taiwan

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