Editorial | China, Taiwan, the SARs: Brexit

Paulo Coutinho

Paulo Coutinho

There’s a strange feeling in the air we breathe these days. No, I’m not talking about the overwhelming pollution – although we had reports this week that the situation in the Pearl River Delta has improved lately, that issue will be for another day. I’m talking politics.
Beijing severed ties with Taipei because the Taiwanese president Tsai didn’t explicitly mention in her swearing-in speech she would abide by the “Beijing consensus” of 1992 which postulates the One-China policy.
Some 10 thousand miles away, the British referendum result is creating waves of discontent, discomfort and fear on both sides of the vote, more so for continental Europeans living in the UK and for Britons living in continental EU countries.
Crossing the Atlantic to the West, in Ottawa, Obama, Trudeau and Peña Nieto are discussing ways to create a more solid North American block, with the Brexit setting the agenda.
My opinion about the Britons’ decision, while I have one, is irrelevant to my point. Just for the record, I have no other choice but to accept it. What I have to say is this: even in crisis the European Union shows generosity by its very nature.
Aside from the extreme reactions we’ve witnessed in the European Parliament following the Brexit vote, the referendum was a vital sign that the “European construction” is no longer a utopia; it’s a reality. Check: The younger generations in UK voted to remain in the EU because they’ve already incorporated into their DNA the “European citizenship.” They feel they belong to a growing Europe without borders.
Simultaneously, the Euro 2016 – the first tournament of its kind with a 24-team enlarged format – was rolling ’n’ rocking on the “stades de France,” across the channel that connects the great island to the old continent. Here’s the irony. The Euro championship enlargement – before they were 16 and in the beginning they were only four – was one towards inclusion, the more the merrier. The Brexit campaigners voted purely on the grounds of exclusion.
Yet the Brexit showed us, by contrarian example, the beautiful enactment of the EU Constitution, “drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.”
Sovereign and democratic states are in the Union willingly and only so. The Brexit was by far and large the biggest test to the “construction européenne” but one that solidifies the basic principle of free will, and of the fundamental rights of the nations and the peoples that compose the block.
I wish that one day we can say that much about the One-China consensus.


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