“Taiwan can be regarded as a sovereign state.” Why or why not?

Table of Content

1.The Underlying Likeness among the Concepts of Legitimacy, Sovereignty, and Authority. Legitimacy:
The original meaning of legitimacy is the rightful king or queen was on the throne by reason of “legitimate” birth. Legitimacy now refers to an attitude in people’s minds – in some countries strong, in others weak – that the government’s rule is rightful (Roskin, 1974). Legitimacy itself is the lawful condition or quality of an act or person. When a whole range of behavior is legitimate, it may be called a legitimate order. The three kinds of legitimacy that determine the existence of sovereignty are rational legitimacy, traditional legitimacy, and charismatic legitimacy. Rational legitimacy is the accord of a people with all claims and acts that are clearly defined as to meaning and objective and that are governed by respect for legal regulations. Traditional legitimacy is accord with claims and acts of rulers because these rulers have “always” made these claims and committed these acts.

For example, monarchy is a source of traditional legitimacy. Charismatic legitimacy is rarely found in a pure form. “Charisma” distinguishes those acts that are deemed to be right because possessed of “the touch of grace”; certain persons and events are supposed to be miraculous and possessed of a special mission in, or significance to, society. Legitimacy is achieved by a government in several ways. Mostly government tries to achieve legitimacy by providing security so that people feel reasonable safe. If there is no security, there is no legitimacy. Legitimacy associated with security is rule of law. The second way of achieving legitimacy is governing well in which government tries to ensure economic growth and job so that people can feed their families. The third way is contributing the structure of government to its legitimacy so that people feel they are fairly represented and have a say in selection of their officials. The fourth ways of achieving legitimacy is by symbols such as flag and historic monuments that everybody should be obeyed. Legitimacy means respect for a government. If there is no legitimacy, people have lost respect for government. Sovereignty:

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Sovereignty is defined originally as the power of monarch over his or her kingdom, but later it is defined as the power of a state to defend their borders from outside attack and to defend their authority from internal non-state rivals by maintaining armies to prevent foreign innovation, controlling their borders with passports and visas and hunting down terrorists. . It can be said that sovereignty means respect for a country. If there is no sovereignty, terrorists have lost respect for the country. Authority:

Authority is a form of power in which a person or group has the right to issue certain sorts of commands and those commands should be obeyed. Authority is psychological ability of leaders to get others to obey them. It relies on a sense of obligation based on the legitimate power of office. Authority is socially accepted. In the society, various groups and individuals may have limited authority; however states and governments have the highest authority in a given society. But not all people obey authority but some people obey what they perceived as legitimate authority most of the time. Authority may also be defined as the right of a leader to prevail obedience, whereby the government can make decisions and accomplish them effectively. It can be understandable that authority as a mean of attainable agreement without persuasion and rational argument but with pressure and coercion. Authority means respect for a leader. If there is no authority, people have lost respect or faith in that particular president. Legitimacy, sovereignty and authority cannot be achieved automatically. All of them must be earned by the government through different ways. All these three concepts are related so that if one of them deteriorated, others can also be eroded. The level of sovereignty is determined by legitimacy.

Legitimacy is being contested. Without it, there is no sovereign, only various groups that may be seeking to establish their sovereignty. Sovereignty is the claim to the power to make final decisions affecting a state when that claim is authorized by the existing legitimate order. Legitimacy and authority are also related. For example, in an authority relationship, the Bs recognizes that A has the right to issue certain commands within the limits of their abilities and they should obey and follow those commands. In short, the Bs accepts A’s commands as legitimate. Furthermore, it is noticeable that these three concepts are directly related with the term ‘rule’, which is implied as the government’s decisions or policies that people should obey. The government will be stable when people obey government’s decisions and when they don’t, the government will have some problems of consequences and various degree of seriousness. The relationship of these three concepts can be summarized according to Roskin’s point of view as follows. Legitimacy, sovereignty, and authority are variations of the first term, legitimacy. “If a government’s rule is legitimate, it has legitimacy. If a country’s existence is legitimate it as sovereignty. If a leader’s rule is legitimate, he or she has authority. (OUKH: Introduction to Political Science, Unit – 1, 1999, p.27) 2.“Taiwan can be regarded as a sovereign state.” Why or why not? To discuss on the issue of whether Taiwan can be regarded as a sovereign state or not, first I will define the meaning of the state. Then, I will examine the five elements or requirements of statehood and the crises in the processes of national building. Next, I will try to argue that Taiwan can be regarded as a sovereign state or not with supportive real-life example. According to Roskin (2008), a state is a government structure, usually sovereign and powerful enough to enforce its writ.

A state is an institution, a political entity, and a more tangible phenomenon (OUHK, 2010). State is a legal concept and it is a term from international law. The five elements or requirements for statehood are territory, population, sovereignty, government and recognition. Territory is a particular geographical area which is occupied by the state. The size of the territory varies from state to state. For example, the size of Russia, China, and United States are millions of square miles each whereas the Kingdom of Tonga is only 290 square miles. Population is another element of statehood. The sizes of the population of states may be different but population size does not affect its statehood. For example, China has a population of 1.3 billion whereas Tanga has only about 100, 00 people. Sovereignty can be defined as independence in which a state is free from jurisdiction of another state. A state may be legally or politically sovereign. For example, during the cold war era, Poland and Hungary were legally sovereign states, but the Soviet Union try to suppress uprising. If there is no legal sovereign, the state will lost certain level of political independence.

Another element for statehood is the government. Laws are set and enforced by the government. The government represents the state in the international community. If there is no government, the territory of the state will come apart or be defeated by other countries for example, Afghanistan. All governments are not legal government, some may be underground government. For example, after Germany occupied France in 1940, a France General, Charles de Gaulle, established an exile government in London to continue to fight German in hope of recovering the lost territories (OUHK, 2010). The final and the most important element for statehood is international recognition. Even if a state met all other elements: territory, population, sovereignty and government, to be a qualified state, it also partly depends on whether the state is diplomatically recognized by other member of international community, especially by the most important members which have major world power. International law does not describe the minimum member of recognizing. Some argue that without recognition, it is not a state. For example, it is still confusing that Taiwan is an independent country or not for it is currently recognized only by 23 non-major power countries in the world.

Nation may encounter five problems or crises in the processes of nation building. These are: identity, legitimacy penetration, participation, and distribution. The first problem that the country usually encountered is Identity in which people need to expend their previous identity with the clean, tribe, or region to the nation. Legitimacy becomes a problem when people do not have respect and obedience on existing government. Without legitimacy means no nation. For example, the Baghdad regime has feeble legitimacy in Iraq (Roskin, 2008). Penetration is another problem in the processes of nation building and it can be encountered when the government fails to enforce its law effectively. Participation crises may occur when the people do not have desire to participate in the affairs of nation such as running for public office and voting in elections.

A state may also encounter distribution problem when the wealth of the nation cannot be equally distributed. For example, Chinese Communist revolution in 1949 occurred because of distribution problem. Taiwan developed into its modern situation following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949 when two million Chinese Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government for all of China on the island. From that point and until 1971, Taiwan was recognized as “China” in the United Nations.

Mainland China’s position on Taiwan is that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China; the People’s Republic of China is awaiting reunification of the island and mainland. However, Taiwan claims independence as a distinct State. In this case of Taiwan to determine whether it can be regarded as a sovereign state, the current situation of Taiwan can be compared with the elements of statehood and the problems encountered by the state in the process of nation building. Taiwan is an island approximately the size of the U.S. states of Maryland and Delaware combined located across the Taiwan Strait from mainland China (the People’s Republic of China). It can be said that Taiwan has somewhat territory that has internationally recognized boundaries. Due to political pressure from mainland China, the United States and most other significant nations recognize one China and thus include the boundaries of Taiwan as being part of the boundaries of China. Taiwan has the population of almost 23 million people who live there on an ongoing basis and its population is slightly smaller than North Korea but larger than Romania. Taiwan also has a government that provides public services and police power. It also has multiple branches of military – Army, Navy (including Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, and Armed Forces Police Command. There are almost 400,000 active duty members of the military and the country spends about 15-16% of its budget on defense.

But Taiwan has the main threat from mainland China, which has approved an anti-secession law that allows a military attack on Taiwan to prevent the island from seeking independence. Additionally, the United States sells Taiwan military equipment and may defend Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. Taiwan also has sovereignty for no other State should have power over the country’s territory. But on the other hand, while Taiwan has maintained its own control over the island from Taipei since 1949, China still claims to have control over Taiwan. In recognition by other member of international countries, Taiwan can be said that it has limited recognition. There are only 23 countries that they currently recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state but they are not super power country. Since China claims Taiwan as its province, the international community does not want to contradict China on this matter. Thus, Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations. Due to this political pressure from China, Taiwan does not maintain an embassy in the United States and the United States (among most other countries) has not recognized Taiwan since January 1, 1979. However, many countries have set up unofficial organizations to carry out commercial and other relations with Taiwan. Taiwan is represented in 122 countries unofficially.

Taiwan maintains contact with the United States through two through an unofficial instrumentality – American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. In addition, Taiwan issues globally recognized passports that allow its citizens to travel internationally. Taiwan also is a member of the International Olympic Committee and this sends its own team to the Olympic Games. Recently, Taiwan has lobbied strongly for admission into international organizations such as the United Nations, which mainland China opposes. Taiwan also has the problem of identity. Jiang Yi-huah, Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University reviewed a study on people’s “national identity” in the sense of “identity of a political community”. The questioners were developed to investigate the people’s opinion concerning with their own identity, sovereignty and territory. The finding is shown in below table 1. Table 1: People’s perception of the range of their countrymen, territory, and sovereignty

Taiwanese identity64.4%65%1.2%
Chinese identity28.2%26.9%13.4%
No opinion6.9%7.4%4.4%
Source: The survey was conducted by CTN Poll Center in July, 1998. The study shows that about 65% of the respondents identify with Taiwan in so far as population and territory of a country are concerned, less than 30%identify with China. But at the issue of sovereignty, more than 80% think they have the right to decide the island’s future, only 13% want to invite the Chinese on Mainland to participate in the decision. That is to say, more than two third of the people in Taiwan have cultivated a clear sense of belonging to this island country, while about 15 to 30% still think that they belong to a greater Chinese country which is yet to come.( Jiang Yi-huah, Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University) Taiwan has no problem with legitimacy and penetration as Taiwan people obey the law set by the government and the government can also enforce its law throughout the nation. Moreover Taiwan people have right to participate in nation affairs and voting in election. Taiwan is also an economic source of power and one of the four economic tigers of Southeast Asia. Economic activities are well established and implemented. Its GDP per capita is among the top 30 of the world.

These facts pointed out that Taiwan is free from problems of participation and distribution of nation’s income and wealth. In conclusion, it is difficult to say clearly whether Taiwan is regarded as a sovereign state. Taiwan fulfills most of the requirements of statehood. Taiwan has a population of 23 million people and has sovereignty over, and effective control of, the defined territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. These areas are controlled by a government which has the right to form policies and the ability to conduct diplomatic, economic and other types of exchanges with other countries throughout the world. Taiwan also free from some crises that can encounter in the processes of nation building such as problems of legitimacy, penetration, participation crisis and distribution of nation’s income and wealth problem.

But on the other hand, Taiwan has nation identity problem in which some people wish to be China identity where as some are willing to be Taiwan identity. Moreover Taiwan is still needed to be an international recognized state especially by UN and super power country. Taiwan can be a sovereign state if it abandons the name “Republic of China (ROC) in favor of Taiwan, it establish a Taiwanese constitution and it become an official member of the UN. Although Taiwan meets some prerequisites of statehood but some of them are still limited due to mainland China’s stance on the issue. Despite the argument surrounding the island of Taiwan, its status should be considered as a de facto independent country of the world. Taiwan can be regarded as politically sovereign state but not legally sovereign state. References:

O’ Nell, P. H., Fields, K. & Share, D.(2006). Case in Comparative Politics (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company. Inc. The Open University of Hong Kong (2010), Introduction to Political Science (unit – 1). Hong Kong, China: The Open University of Hong Kong. Roskin, M. G., Cord, R. L., Medeiros, J. A. & Jones, W. S. (2008), Political Science: An Introduction
(10th ed.). Upp

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