Indigenous peoples of Taiwan tell Xi Jinping that they've never given up their rightful claim to sovereignty

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      Below is a recently released, translated joint declaration by representatives of the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan serving on the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee. They issued it in response to a speech earlier this month by Chinese president Xi Jinping, who claimed that it's a "historical and legal" fact that Taiwan is part of China.

      Mr. Xi Jinping, you do not know us, so you do not know Taiwan.

      We are the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan, and we’ve lived in Taiwan, our motherland, for more than 6,000 years. We are not the so-called “ethnic minorities” within the “Chinese nation”.

      The stories our ancestors tell of the mountains of Jade, Alishan, Dabajian, Kavulungan, Beinan and Dulan, forests, grasslands, valleys, rivers, islands, and oceans of Taiwan testify that Taiwan is—and has always been—the traditional territory of the Indigenous peoples on this land.

      Taiwan is the sacred land where generations of our ancestors lived and protected with their lives. It doesn’t belong to China.

      We the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan have witnessed the deeds and words of those who came to this island, including the Spanish, the Dutch, the Koxinga Kingdom, the Qing Empire, the Japanese, and the Republic of China.

      We signed treaties with the Dutch and peace agreements with the Americans. We have fought against imperialism and every foreign intruder of our land. We have suffered military suppression from colonial and authoritarian regimes.

      Once called “barbarians”, we are now recognized as the original owners of Taiwan.

      We the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan have pushed this nation forward toward respect for human rights, democracy, and freedom. After thousands of years, we are still here.

      We have never given up our rightful claim to the sovereignty of Taiwan.

      Mr. Xi Jinping, you do not understand dignity, so you misunderstand greatness.

      Indeed, we are not content with the current state of Taiwan, the sovereign state that has been built upon our motherland. The state has just started paying attention to historical and transitional justice for the Indigenous peoples. It has just begun to recognize its own ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as different understandings of history within its diverse peoples.

      Nevertheless, Taiwan is also a nation that we are striving to build together with other peoples who recognize the distinct identity of this land. Taiwan is a nation accommodating diverse peoples trying to understand each other’s painful pasts, as well as a nation in which we can tell our own stories in our own languages, loudly.

      Together we decide what kind of country Taiwan should be, and we work hard to improve its current state. This is dignity.

      Whether it is the Kanakanavu people with some 300 members, or the Amis with a population more than 210,000, 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.

      Being humble to the land, respecting other lives, to co-exist with other groups of people in pursuit of common good—these are values that we believe in.

      Chinese president Xi Jinping's claims that Taiwan is part of his country have been challenged by Indigenous peoples living on the island nation.
      Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

      Mr. Xi Jinping, people should not harm each other, no matter their differences.

      In the speech you presented on behalf of the government of China, Mr. Xi, you have insisted on unifying Taiwan with the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”, backed by China’s military force. You also stated that no harm will come to those who are “Chinese”.

      However, any violence is wrong, and no one should be harmed for their identity or beliefs, Chinese or otherwise.

      We have witnessed in the “autonomous regions” the Tibetans and the Uyghurs being driven into cultural, linguistic, and religious extinction after they became “Chinese”.

      We have witnessed the people of Hong Kong quickly losing freedom and democracy under “One Country, Two Systems”.

      We have witnessed how China’s own people cannot even speak out for or defend their fundamental human rights.

      Mr. Xi, force does not lead to peace. As the old saying of Sakizaya goes, Misawacu hanizaay masasu takid—those who bully others will have the same brought back to them.

      We urge you to bring true greatness to your country, to stop threatening the people of Taiwan with force, and to strive to bring human rights and freedom to the people of China.

      Mr. Xi Jinping, we the Taiwanese Indigenous peoples will not be threatened and will make no concessions.

      The national future of Taiwan will be decided by self-determination of the Taiwanese Indigenous peoples and all the people who live on our motherland.

      No government, political party, or organization has the right to negotiate with any foreign power in an attempt to surrender the control of the traditional territory of ours, the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan.

      We are the determined guardians of our motherland, as we have been for thousands of years, and will continue to be.

      If one day China abandons its distorted understanding of history, nationality, and statehood;

      If one day China becomes our friendly neighbor and stops claiming its forceful “parenthood” upon us;

      Only then will we propose a toast to China, our neighbor, with a cup of millet wine in all our sincerity.

      Pasola xmnx na mansonsou! (May every time you breathe, you breathe smoothly; Tsou)


      浦忠成(鄒族)、馬千里Mateli Sawawan(卑南族)、Magaitan.Lhkatafatu(邵族)、伍麗華Saidai Tarovecahe(魯凱族)、夏錦龍Obay.Ataw.Hayawan(賽夏族)、Eleng Tjaljimaraw(排灣族)、鴻義章Upay Kanasaw(阿美族)、曾華德 集福祿萬(排灣族)、林碧霞Afas Falah(阿美族)、帖喇.尤道Teyra Yudaw(太魯閣族)、伊斯坦大.貝雅夫.正福Istanda.Paingav.Cengfu(布農族)、伊央.撒耘Yiyang Sayion(撒奇萊雅族)、吳新光voe-uyongana(鄒族)、潘經偉(馬卡道族)、孔賢傑’Avia Kanpanena(卡那卡那富族)、潘杰Watan Teymu(賽德克族)、謝宗修Buya.Batu(噶瑪蘭族)、葛新雄(拉阿魯哇族)、蘇美琅Savi Takisvilainan(布農族)、吳雪月(阿美族)、Uma Talavan萬淑娟(西拉雅族,南區平埔族群代表)、陳金萬(凱達格蘭族,北區平埔族群代表)

      浦忠成 (Tsou), 馬千里 Mateli Sawawan (Pinuyumayan), Magaitan·Lhkatafatu (Thao), 伍麗華 Saidai Tarovecahe (Rukai), 夏錦龍 Obay·Ataw·Hayawan (Saisiyat), Eleng Tjaljimaraw (Paiwan), 鴻義章 Upay Kanasaw (Amis), 曾華德 集福祿萬 (Paiwan), 林碧霞 Afas Falah (Amis), 帖喇・尤道 Teyra Yudaw (Truku), 伊斯坦大・貝雅夫・正福 Istanda·Paingav·Cengfu (Bunun), 伊央・撒耘 Yiyang Sayion (Sakizaya), 吳新光 voe-uyongana (Tsou), 潘經偉 (Makatao), 孔賢傑 ’Avia Kanpanena (Kanakanavu), 潘杰 Watan Teymu (Sediq), 謝宗修 Buya·Batu (Kavalan), 葛新雄 (Hla’alua), 蘇美琅 Savi Takisvilainan (Bunun), 吳雪月 (Amis), Uma Talavan 萬淑娟 (Siraya, representative of Southern Pingpu), 陳金萬 (Ketagalan, representative of Northern Pingpu)