Visa Free Status from 100 Countries:
Shattering One Myth and Two Complexes
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 5, 2012
Summary: We have crossed the threshold. One hundred countries, including the United States, have granted us visa-free treatment. The public on Taiwan can affirm its own efforts. The public has reached a watershed moment in its vision of the future. We have many important and urgent problems to solve. We do not have time to wait-and-see. Above all, we must learn the lessons of those wasted years and false agendas. We must let go of our emotional baggage. We must let go of our doubts and anxieties. Only then can we envision how much better Taiwan could be.
Full Text below:
Washington has announced that the ROC will be included among the nations receiving visa-free treatment from the US. ROC passport holders can now travel freely to nearly 130 nations. ROC citizens on Taiwan can now "stand up and go forth." This is proof positive.
President Ma said this proves that his policy of flexible diplomacy is correct. This proves that Taipei/Washington relations remain solid. Premier Sean Chen said this was an affirmation of our citizenry, of their level of cultivation and sophistication. The DPP is attempting to steal credit. It is asserting that visa-free treatment was a "bipartisan effort." It did not pass up the opportunity to smear the KMT. It accused the KMT of making an under the table deal that "traded US beef for US visas." But consider the issue from the viewpoint of civil society. Visa-free treatment for 100 countries has enormous significance. For Taiwan, it shatters one myth and two complexes.
The one myth is the myth of "Taiwan Independence." The slogan "stand up and go forth" was coined in 2000, when Chen Shui-bian shouted it out immediately following the first change in ruling parties, at his inauguration. During the last part of his term he relentlessly trumpeted "de-Sinicization," "the elimination of all vestiges of the Republic of China," and the "rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution." Everywhere he could, he took advantage of frustrations over the ROC's diplomatic plight. He cited them as justifications for Taiwan independence. His rhetoric was no exception. He demanded to know "What the hell is the Republic of China?" He claimed the "wagon wheel brand" passport made it impossible for the public on Taiwan to "stand up and go forth." Now, using only this passport, Republic of China citizens can proudly travel the world over without visas. The myth was that in order to "stand up and go forth," the Republic of China would have to undergo the "rectification of names." It would have to change the name of the country and its constitution. That myth has now been shattered.
We no longer need visas for Japan. That is probably the sole contribution the DPP made to visa-free treatment. During Chen Shui-bian's term of office, the DPP invited its own humiliation. It indulged in "head butting diplomacy" or malicious "scorched earth diplomacy." By contrast, the Ma administration's "flexible diplomacy" adopted rational and pragmatic means to secure the support of the international community. It has clearly proven superior. Visa-free treatment from 100 countries is a reward conferred upon ROC citizens. They paid the price of admission to the world through years of civilized conduct. Many people were once moved by the DPP's calls to "stand up and go forth." But looking back, that enthusiasm burned out long ago. That was not the motive power that gave birth to today's 100 nations visa-free treatment.
The 100 nations visa-free treatment has shattered two complexes. These are the "Taiwan is Unsafe Complex" and the "Pity Poor Taiwan Complex." Take the "Taiwan is Unsafe Complex." The United States granted the ROC visa-free treatment. This attracted even more attention than visa-free treatment from the European Union and other countries. Taipei and Washington have a long history. Over the past six decades, the United States has been Taiwan's most important ally and trading partner. Any changes, internal or external, provoked wave after wave of emigration from Taiwan. Most of this emigration was to the United States. Psychological factors were behind this. Specifically, it was the belief that Taiwan's situation is "unsafe," and that the United States is a paradise in which one can live in peace for the long term. The United States has now opened its doors to Taiwan. This proves that Taiwan itself is safe and one can trust its highly civilized society. The self-esteem and self-confidence of people on Taiwan have been enhanced. They should let go of their sense that Taiwan is unsafe.
Now take the "Pity Poor Taiwan Complex." The ROC is the 37th country to receive visa-free treatment from the US. It is the only one that lacks diplomatic relations with the US. Inclusion in the Visa Waiver program requires strict vetting. This includes risk assessment for illegal residence, illegal labor. and illegal activities. Visitors from the Chinese mainland arriving in the United States are rejected at a rate as high 20%. Visitors from Taiwan are rejected at a rate of only 2.2%. For two consecutive years, it has remained below the 3% threshold required for the ROC to obtain visa-free treatment. As we can see, whether a nation's citizens are respected does not depend upon the number of diplomatic allies it has. It depends on whether its citizens meet universally recognized standards of conduct. For many years, the Republic of China's diplomatic plight has been explained by means of Taiwan's colonial history and political unrest. This led to the creation of a uniquely Taiwanese mentality of self-pity. This led to the belief that the public on Taiwan cannot escape some sort of tragic destiny. But the ROC has now received visa-free treatment from 100 countries. Our national strength has expressed itself through the vitality of our civil society. This has conferred upon us an international status outside the framework of traditional diplomacy. The public on Taiwan can stop feeling sorry for itself. It can stop defining itself as an "international orphan." It can gaze out upon the world with a carefree attitude.
We have crossed the threshold. One hundred countries, including the United States, have granted us visa-free treatment. The public on Taiwan can affirm its own efforts. The public has reached a watershed moment in its vision of the future. We have many important and urgent problems to solve. We do not have time to wait-and-see. Above all, we must learn the lessons of those wasted years and false agendas. We must let go of our emotional baggage. We must let go of our doubts and anxieties. Only then can we envision how much better Taiwan could be.
2012.10.05 01:34 am