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China and Taiwan: Prospects for Reunification

Recent articles in the Monitor have addressed elections in the Republic of China on Taiwan and their significance for the future of relations across the Taiwan Strait ("Pro-independence Vote in Taiwan Raises Fear of Conflict With China," Dec. 5; "Bridging the Taiwan Strait," Dec. 3).

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As both a citizen and representative of the Republic of China, I would like to clarify a few important points.

A random poll conducted this year by the ROC's Mainland Affairs Council revealed that, at present, 82.1 percent of the ROC's population prefer mainaining the country's status quo to either independence or reunification. Although roughly 11 percent of those people approved of eventual independence, an overwhelming majority decidedly refused to support such a position. While pro-independence advocates tend to be extremely vocal, they do not necessarily represent the mainstream of Taiwan's society.

The ROC government is steadfastly committed to reunification [across] the Taiwan Strait under conditions of democracy, freedom, and equitable prosperity. However, 48 years of separate development have resulted in vast differences between the economic, political, and social systems of mainland China and Taiwan.

The success in recent local elections of the ROC's major opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, serves as a prime example of these differences. While the DPP victories attest to the strength of Taiwan's democratic reforms, they stand in stark contrast to the lack of political freedom on the mainland.

Reunification cannot be accomplished simply by applying the semantic band-aid of "one-country, two systems." Rather, it requires the gradual and incremental establishment of mutual trust through peaceful exchange and dialogue.

If reforms progress on the mainland and bring its system into closer alignment with that of our own, I believe this will be increasingly possible. However, any attempt at reunification by coercion or military force will only have tragic consequences for both sides.

William Yih

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Director, Information Division

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

What the septuplets mean to us

Regarding "Septuplets - The Hard Questions Multiply, (Dec. 9): In the article, Prof. Marshall Fishwick is quoted as saying, " And at the end of the 20th century, it is immoral to have multiple births when the world and society can't sustain them." I disagree with this comment for several reasons.

First, food shortages in many parts of the world, including poorer segments of the United States, result from economic barriers to food distribution, not from a lack of food. The US agricultural industry produces more than enough food to feed its people, as evidenced by government programs to purchase surplus farm products and to pay farmers not to produce. While it is tragic that America's surplus food cannot find its way to needy people in other parts of the world, this tragedy will not be alleviated by reducing the birthrate in the United States.

Second, it is certainly not "immoral" for loving parents to produce children, provided they have the resources - emotional and physical - to care for them. The abundant (some say excessive) coverage of the McCaughey's story revealed a very capable, loving set of parents and a supportive, close-knit community.

The world needs more children born into this sort of environment, not fewer.

Paul Shankwiler

Lafayette, Calif.

My thanks for the article on the septuplets. Over-consumption - and its byproduct, pollution - starts with the acts of individuals, not only in human reproduction, but also in what are daily excesses by many of us.

Lucielle Brownell

Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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