Australian professor decorated for lifelong contribution to Taiwan

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Australian Professor Bruce Jacobs was awarded Friday the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon in recognition of his lifelong contribution to democratization and human rights in Taiwan.

Presenting the award, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (???) said that since Jacobs first arrived in Taiwan as a student 53 years ago, he has "made exceptional contributions to the people of Taiwan," as the country was breaking the chains of authoritarianism and transitioning to a democracy.

Jacobs, 75, did his postgraduate studies at the History Research Institute of National Taiwan University 1965-1966 then returned to Taiwan in the early 1970s to conduct research for his Columbia University PhD thesis in rural areas of the country.

In 1980, during the period of martial law, he was placed under arrest for three months and banned from entering Taiwan for 12 years, after he was falsely implicated in the murder of a woman and her twin granddaughters, who were the mother and children of former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (???).

Jacobs is not just a scholar or a professor, but "part of Taiwan's history," Wu said at the ceremony at which the Australian was awarded the civilian order that recognizes outstanding contributions to the development of the nation.

"The events that have transpired during his visits here are indeed events that have shaped the collective consciousness of people across Taiwan," Wu said.

He thanked Jacobs for giving the world a wider understanding of why Taiwan merits the international community's support, through his research on Taiwan's identity and democratization, his many publications and his university classes.

Jacobs is emeritus professor of Asian Languages and Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, where he began teaching in 1991.

In the early 1990s, he served as a member of the Australia-China Council (ACC), which was established by the Australian Government in 1978 to promote mutual understanding and foster people-to-people relations between Australia and China.

Over the years, Jacobs has also helped enhance Taiwan's bilateral relationship with Australia in immeasurable ways, from his early work at the ACC to his efforts in promoting academic interest and discussion in Australia about Taiwan, Wu said.

"What Bruce has done is reflective of the values that bring our two countries together," the minister said.

In his remarks, Jacobs said it was a "moment of glory" to receive the medal.

Before delivering a speech at a foreign ministry banquet that was closed to the press, Jacobs told reporters that a new "paradigm shift" is needed to explain modern Taiwan and its future, and he planned to put forward that idea.

In an op-ed in the Taipei Times on Friday about the proposed "paradigm shift," Jacobs said Taiwan and the world's democratic powers need to move from the understanding that "one China" includes Taiwan.

Under the new paradigm, Taiwan is a nation-state without historical ties to China - other than that of the Kuomintang's (KMT) colonial dictatorship from 1945-1949, he said in the article.

"No other Chinese regime based in China ever ruled Taiwan," Jacobs wrote. "To say that Taiwan has been a part of China since 'the beginning' is pure nonsense," he noted, adding that such old concepts as "one China" have no use in examining modern Taiwan.

"Second, Taiwan must work with the democratic powers to establish foreign relations on a new basis that does not make nations choose between Taiwan and China. Both are nations of the world and both should be recognized as such."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel