Dear America, and the world

This is for those of you who are against oppression, coercion, state-sponsored censorship, domestic terrorism, foreign terrorism, and toppling of democratic governments. This is for those of you who believes in democracy, free press, free Internet, economic and social justice, and people’s inalienable right to self-determination and a good, dignified life. If you do not believe in any of the things listed above, perhaps another longer conversation is needed.


I am a Taiwanese person and I am angry. I am angry at your insensitivity to our being here, living on the same planet with you. There are 23 million people in Taiwan. That is a lot of people. People who you might or might not know. People who have emotions, just like you. People who are working hard to have a good life, just like you. People are not things. People are not labels. When you have to use a label, remember the people behind that label or hashtag. They, we, deserve your consideration and kinship as fellow human beings.

Now, allow me to explain. I am about to put a label on you. I am sorry but just for a moment, bear with me, please. I am also going to address you as American. I know some of you would be offended. I am sorry again. If you are not an American, please substitute the specifics with your nationality.


As an American, of whatever origin, sexuality, or class, you are privileged. Bam.

You are privileged to not worry about your country being not a country one day.

Yes, your country has a lot of problems, and yes, you feel oppressed, subjugated, disenfranchised, and instrumentalised. Yes, the person you voted might have lost the election. Yet, your country is still economically strong, militarily powerful, and most importantly, recognized by a whopping one hundred percent of the countries in the world. Ultimately, there is no legitimate threat to the existence of the political entity that is the country called the United States of America. Or to put it this way, the existence of the United States of America is a universal fact and its legitimacy to exist is questioned by no one.

Here, I am talking about a larger “goal” or “lacking” than good governance or social justice. I am talking about something that’s even more out of reach, even harder to achieve through activism than government reform, universal healthcare, or Killing the Black Snake. (Solidarity with Standing Rock.) Here, the adversary is not your own government. It is the world. I am talking about the desire to having a place of your own in this world.

Could you imagine a life without a country? I am talking about not having a country to serve your will, to voice your voice, to protect your dignity and rights, internationally. I am talking being denied of recognition, rights, and existence. Being shut out from the grand hall of international collaboration, where all the highest ideals of humanity are supposed to be upheld.

To catch you up, here is a good summary of what our realities as Taiwanese are, right now. It’s not very long. Please read.

Now you know, Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, not recognized by most of the world powers, and denied participation to many important international cooperative efforts. Simply put, not a country.

Questions? Before we go on, are you sure you’re still interested? I hope you are. If you are not, it’s OK. Thank you for reading this far. Before you close this window, we kindly ask your consideration that next time when you express your ideas about how international politics should work, or how should your country deal with China, think of Taiwan. Remember us, 23 million people, fighting for a place of our own in the world.

If you’re still interested, here I go.

Why can’t Taiwan be a country?

  1. One China Policy: There is only one China in the world.
  2. One China Principle: Mainland China and Taiwan belong to the same China.
  3. China threatening the world: Non-peaceful means to reunify Taiwan if 1. or 2. is violated.

Declared by China, and adopted by the United States and all world powers, these rules leaves Taiwan no where to go. Of course. Why would China leave any way out for Taiwan? Reunification has always been its end goal.

All of this, is the result of a deadlock created by war, historic circumstances, human errors, the Cold War, and the regular political game between world powers.

Does Taiwan have to be a country?

Do you have to attend the same school, ride in the same bus, eat at the same restaurant, dance on the same floor with white people? Do you have to call your same-sex civil union marriage? It is not about the things themselves. It is about the right to not be terrorized. It is about the freedom to choose.

Taiwan is already an important economy and a vibrant democracy without being a country.

If you are thinking about Taiwan as one of the Four Asian Tigers and their success stories, yes. It is a success story built on environmental destruction for corporate interest, and the subjugation of the people by the government to the neoliberal global economic hierarchy. Please stop thinking about Taiwan, or any other countries as two-dimensional industrial machinery.

Living in a country that is not a country affect you in many ways. Your sense of stability. Your sense of belonging as a People. Your identity. A common identity forms a common depository of culture. It provides an anchor of recognition and ownership. Culture grows when we recognize that our culture is unique, and it is ours to shape, to safeguard, and to share.

Government policies in a country that is not a country are abnormal, awkward, wasteful, prone to exploitation, and potentially dangerous to the security of the people it is meant to protect.

  1. The Mainland Affairs Council, not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handles foreign affairs with China.
  2. The Internal Administration Committee, not the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Congress oversees foreign affairs with China.
  3. We have a Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission that is doing nothing.
  4. We have a Taiwan Provincial Government and a Fujian Provincial Government that is doing nothing.
  5. Special policies, regulations, and bilateral agreements regarding banking, trade, investment, taxation, immigration, cross-border law enforcement with China.

Taiwan is our country. We want to make it better. Making Taiwan a country is one thing we can do to make it better.

Does it have to be now?

China is the second largest economy in the world. In a world like this one, where economy drives everything, China’s economic power is directly translated into political power. Businesses and government officials of the world, the United States, even some in Taiwan, are bound to consider, if not serve the Chinese interest. Control through economics and infrastructure, not military force, is the Chinese strategy.

Building a country is a long-term project. Look at all the people in the world who are fighting to build their own country, fighting for their voices to be heard. The Kurds, the people in Rojava, the Scotts, the Catalonians, the people of Hong Kong, of Tibet, of East Turkestan. In each of these places, generations have come before to preserve and contribute to their common identity. That is true in Taiwan as well. Building a country takes time. There is no better time to start than now.

This is my reality. The reality of a Taiwanese person. I did not write this to congratulate ourselves. No. We as a People still have much work to do, together. I did not write this to have everyone put make Taiwan a country on the top of their list. No. We know that the world is a troubled place. There are many many people who faces war, hunger, and disease. They need help desperately. We can relate because we know what it feels like to live in a world that is too big for you to affect. I am writing this, however, to ask you to understand us, and to remember us. To understand what it is like to live without a country. To remember when thinking how some other people might affect your world, try to see the world from their point of view because the world is theirs, too.

Taiwan is not a country, although it is, and it has every right to be one. We are trying everyday to make it a country, and a better country.

This is it.

If you would like, be a friend of Taiwan. Speak for us when you have the chance. Hell, speak for everyone in the world who is building an identity of their own. Visit us when you travel. Don’t just go to the skyscrapers and the grand halls. Walk, bike, into the alleyways. Eat at street vendors and small shops. Talk to people. Feel and live the rhythm of others. If you do go to the skyscrapers and the grand halls, know their making and their history.

We are a small country with few people. We are a good country with good people.


This is my vision for my country. What is your vision for yours?

This article, by @chihaoyo, is licensed under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license.

More related articles

This article is written by Taiwanese activists Lin Fei-fan, Chen Wei-ting and June Lin. They were prominent figures during the Occupation of Taiwan’s Congress in March 2014, dubbed “Sunflower Movement.”

Quotes from the article:

Taiwan’s current diplomatic isolation is a legacy of the Cold War.

[The Sunflower] movement, the elections that followed and national opinion polls together demonstrate a new consensus: Taiwan does not claim to represent China, nor is it trying to become a part of China. Rather, we seek increased international space, recognition and dignity.

This is an opinion on the Boston Globe by Jeff Jacobe, “a purveyor of refreshing conservative cheer in the midst of a dusty liberal wilderness.”

A strong ending quote of this article:

No more fig leaf. Beijing may be the sole legitimate government of China, but China stops at the Taiwan Strait. There is one China and one Taiwan. Let’s all stop pretending otherwise.