Charter 08

In honor of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident who passed away just hours ago, we are posting his dream of a democratic China in the form of his Charter 08, a petition written to advocate for China’s transformation into a true democracy. May he rest in peace and finally be free.

I. Foreword

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values. Continue reading “Charter 08”

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Going back on (historical) words

When asked about Hong Kong’s “rights and freedoms protected by the Sino-British Joint Declaration”, on June 30, before the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said:

As for the remarks made by those from the US and the UK, I want to stress that Hong Kong is China’s SAR, and Hong Kong affairs belong to China’s domestic affairs. The Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984) clearly marks the transitional period off from China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. It’s been 20 years now since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, and the arrangements during the transitional period prescribed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration are now history and of no practical significance, nor are they binding on the Chinese central government’s administration of the Hong Kong SAR. The British side has no sovereignty, no power to rule and supervise Hong Kong after the handover. It is hoped that relevant people will come around to this.

至于媒体报道英美有关人士的表态,我想强调,香港是中国的特别行政区,香港事务属于中国内政。1984年的《中英联合声明》就中方恢复对香港行使主权和过渡期有关安排作了清晰划分。现在香港已经回归祖国怀抱20年,《中英联合声明》作为一个历史文件,不具有任何现实意义,对中国中央政府对香港特区的管理也不具备任何约束力。英方对回归后的香港没有主权,没有治权,也没有监督权。希望上述人士认清现实。

Of no practical significance, nor are they binding. Best wishes to the people of Hong Kong, especially those still fighting for those rights and freedoms. Taiwan must take note.

Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate

After securing a lucrative investment package from China during the visit of Chinese foreigner minister in January this year, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to rename and move its trade office from the current capital, Abuja, to the commercial hub, Lagos, as well as to reduce the number of staff. Numerous negotiations between Taiwan and Nigeria followed, but to no avail.

Facing strong pressure from China, the director of Taiwan trade office was forced to leave the African country on March 31 as Nigeria could no longer guarantee his safety. Yesterday, Nigeria sent military police to close off the Taiwanese office in Abuja and forced staff to leave. Continue reading “Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate”

Panama breaks diplomatic relations with ROC

Taiwan’s foreign ministry today announced that it has terminated diplomatic relations with the Republic of Panama, after the Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced the decision to recognize the People’s Republic of China in a televised address. Panamanian vice-president and foreign minister and Chinese foreign minister formalized the relationship in Beijing shortly before the address.

Continue reading “Panama breaks diplomatic relations with ROC”

Indigenous territories in Taiwan

Despite President Tsai Ing-wen’s apology to the indigenous peoples in August last year, indigenous rights still have a long way to go in Taiwan. In February this year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) started drafting regulations on defining traditional indigenous territories. These territories expand from current indigenous reserved territories, and are meant to include territories occupied by tribes before foreign invasions.

As most of Taiwan’s current population resides on the western side of the island, the current discussion is only on the 16 government-recognized tribes, who mostly reside on the eastern part of the island and in the Central Mountain Range. Surveys conducted by the CIP during 2002-2007 suggested that traditional indigenous territories are about 180 hectares, or ~50% of Taiwan. The draft CIP created this year, however, only included 80 hectares, as it excluded private properties and land owned by the government and its agencies, most of which were obtained through force and deceit in the last century.   Continue reading “Indigenous territories in Taiwan”

Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage

After hearing oral arguments on the case concerning same-sex marriage brought by activist Chi Chia-wei and Taipei City Government two months ago, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court today ruled that the marriage chapter of the Civil Code, which states marriage as between “the male and the female parties,” to be unconstitutional. (Read the Court’s English press release.)

In its Interpretation 748, the Court contends that Part IV Chapter II of the Civil Code on marriage violates ROC Constitution Article 22, protecting people the freedom of marriage, and Article 7, stating all ROC citizens to be equal. The Court rules that relevant authorities must amend or enact laws within two years to protect the right of marriage for same-sex couples. However, the Court did not specify whether the parliament should amend the Civil Code, add additional articles allowing same-sex marriage, or to create a separate law allowing same-sex civil union. Continue reading “Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage”