Leaders of Taiwan's indigenous peoples issued a joint statement Jan. 8 directed at Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said in a Jan. 2 speech that Taiwan "must and will" be united with China. Xi called for talks on a "one country, two systems" arrangement, and darkly alluded to the use of force, saying Beijing "reserves the option of taking all necessary measures." The indigenous leaders retorted that their peoples inhabited the island for thousands of years before the first Han Chinese settlers reached its shores. "We are the indigenous peoples of Taiwan and have lived in Taiwan, our motherland, for more than six thousand years," the letter says. "We are not ethnic minorities within the so-called 'Chinese nation.'"
The statement, entitled "Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan to President Xi Jinping of China," further asserts: "Taiwan is the sacred land where generations of our ancestors lived and protected it with their lives. It has never belonged to China… We have fought against imperialism and every foreign intruder of our land. We have suffered military suppression from colonial and authoritarian regimes… We have never given up our rightful claim to the sovereignty of Taiwan… [W]e the Taiwanese indigenous peoples will not be threatened and will make no concessions."
The statement further charged: "Mr. Xi Jinping, you do not understand dignity, so you misunderstand greatness…. Whether it is the Kanakanavu people with 300 members, or the Amis with 210,000 members, each of us indigenous peoples have equal rights to self-determination. This is dignity. We do not share the monoculturalism, unification, and hegemony promoted by you, Mr. Xi, on behalf of the government of China. It is far from greatness. It is of nothing that we desire."
Taiwan's indigenous peoples, who are not descendants of Chinese settlers, have over the centuries resisted colonial incursions by the Dutch, Spanish and Japanese as well as Chinese. (The News Lens, Taiwan; SCMP, BBC News)