Conditions of freedom for a state under siege

The Taipei Times
By Tien Chiu-chin 田秋堇
Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009, Page 8

Last month Chinese hackers attacked the Web site of the Melbourne International Film Festival, retaliating against the organizers for screening a documentary about exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, a film that Australian director Jeff Daniels worked on for seven years.

After the Kaohsiung Film Festival announced that it would screen the documentary, The 10 Conditions of Love, China and Chinese forces in Taiwan issued a series of threats.

Media reports claim that Chinese tourists canceled thousands of room reservations in Kaohsiung because of the Dalai Lama’s trip there, and are threatening to do so again if the documentary is shown.

If this is true, then it is clear that tourism is becoming one of China’s political and economic tools for threatening Taiwanese and their government into accepting Chinese “values.” Beijing, it would appear, will use such bait to manipulate this country and take anything it can get, turning every profession and industry into a Chinese mouthpiece.

Taiwan is a free, democratic, independent and sovereign state. The protection of freedom of expression under the Constitution and other legislation means that the festival has the right to screen this film within Taiwan’s borders regardless of whether one supports Kadeer.

Without this freedom, we would be a vassal of China and lose our international status as independent and autonomous.

If the authorities heed Beijing on this matter, who is to say that the news China censors at home will not soon be deemed taboo by media outlets here?

Those who profess to love Taiwan should consider the reasons why. Among them, freedom and democracy must be safeguarded at all costs.

Taiwan tolerates calls for and against Xinjiang and Tibetan independence because this is a land of freedom and democracy — the universal principles of the 21st century.

Twenty or 30 years ago, junior high school textbooks used to call independence activists the “fifth column” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but, as it turns out, they are China’s worst enemy.

In the past, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) political language manipulated values and confused minds. Today, should we continue to tolerate the fact that China hopes to distort Taiwanese values?

Those who would follow China along its current path should not forget that they enjoy its benefits because they hold the same opinions as China. China is also using them to attack the goal of Taiwanese independence; if one day there are no longer independence forces left in Taiwan, they will be discarded.

Kadeer was once the richest person in Xinjiang and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a post many dream of obtaining.

Why did she give up the benefits of wealth and being well-regarded by Beijing and sacrifice everything to promote the Uighurs’ right to freedom and autonomy?

The first condition of loving Taiwan is the ability to sacrifice fame and wealth to safeguard the nation’s core values of freedom and democracy — and so are the second to 10th conditions.

Tien Chiu-chin is a Democratic Progressive Party legislator-at-large.