Just over a week ago I was one of a few people who gathered in Church House to greet an emissary from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), Prof Victor Hsu. It was a pleasure meeting Victor, not just because of what he represents but also because of the stories he told of life in Taiwan and the PCT. PCT have 40 partnerships with other denominations around the world. A few of them, such as with the URC, are very significant. Many of you will be aware that a Taiwanese congregation uses Lumen, TFiL – the Taiwanese Fellowship in London.
PCT has long been involved in advocacy ministry seeking justice for the 18 indigenous groups who had suffered prolonged genocide since the Japanese invasion in 1895 and for the many people who suffered in the period of Marshall Law which ended in 1987. The long struggles of PCT have been rewarded recently following a commitment from the new president of Taiwan to transitional justice for both groups.
In recent months PCT have reassessing their goals. To help them do this they brought 100 local PCT leaders together with 54 international partners. Their agenda covered gender justice, poverty reduction, youth issues and climate change, amongst other things. One further outcome from the conference was the establishment of the Taiwanese Ecumenical Forum (TEF). It is likely that John Proctor will join the full forum meeting planned for the end of this year.
Victor spoke very passionately about the continuing struggles for the international recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign state. The Vatican is the only European state to have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Taiwan’s isolation in international circles is growing, almost to a ludicrous extent: Taiwanese visitors are not even allowed to enter UN premises as tourists! The World Health Organisation recently refused to allow Taiwan to participate as an observer, a status they have enjoyed for the last four years. And the list goes on. The Taiwanese government has little access to international organisations: PCT is the only body in Taiwan with a significant and current international network! PCT are working to try to reduce the international isolation of their country: they don’t want us to endorse their plans, they just want us to walk with them. May God travel with them.