China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 12, 2012
Summary: President Ma's first term brought order out of chaos. It established cross-Strait peace. His second term should be devoted to the rebirth of the nation as well as the consolidation of peace. The consolidation of peace, the promotion of mutual trust, and the restoration of our national identity require a cross-Strait joint effort. But most of all we hope the President will offer a new vision on New Year's Day. We hope he will offer concrete reasons and take concrete actions. With peaceful cross-strait relations as a premise, we hope he will help the nation reach a consensus concerning our national identity, and thereby offer new prospects for cross-Strait relations. Achieving these would ensure President Ma's legacy and his place in history.
Full Text below:
Between the 10th and the 11th of this month, the Chinese Integration Association and other organizations held a series of seminars in Taipei. Prominent scholars from both sides of the Strait, from both the Blue and Green political camps, gathered in one location. To some extent this was merely a martial arts "exhibition match." It provided representatives from different camps to read aloud their wish lists. The different camps reached no consensus. But it was a positive development and a worthwhile experiment. It promoted communication and sharing. It deserves affirmation.
During the seminars, academics from both sides of the Strait made little mention of how to promote peaceful cross-Strait relations. But there was little disagreement regarding this premise. Regional security and sound cross-Strait relations require it. People on Taiwan need political and economic hope. People on the Mainland need domestic and international stability. Peaceful development is a win-win-win scenario. It is consistent with the interests of all parties.
Many scholars addressed the issue of identity. Some spoke of values-based identity. Some spoke of feeling-based identity. Some addressed real world interests. Some addressed the differences in the two sides' historical and international development. Needless to say each of them addressed the KMT's anti-Communist education, of Beijing's pressure on Taiwan, of Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and the DPP's de-Sinicization education, from their own perspective..
Academia has long recognized that national identity is an extremely complex issue. It involves many facets and levels. It involves biological descent, political systems, culture, emotions, values, rational considerations, real world interests, national origin, and ethnicity. These may be dealt with using progressive methods. Political socialization, education, and publicity can reshape these attitudes. Advocates with different perspectives must not resort to one-sided, biased, and selective arguments to promote their ideological and political agendas.
The public on Taiwan agrees. Biological descent, life styles, religion, and culture never really posed a problem for national identity. But a narrower sense of national identity emerged. The Nationalist government's anti-communist education succeeded too well. The two sides have been separated for a long time. The Mainland authorities have persuaded the international community that they are the legal representatives of China. The disparity between the two sides' strength has increased. On top of this, politicians on Taiwan have successfully incited hatred toward the Mainland. The result is that many on Taiwan have become alienated from their national identity.
Each of the preceding viewpoints have some basis in fact. Beijing should review some of its practices and change some of its attitudes. But none of these are convincing reasons for people on Taiwan to jettison their identity as Chinese. Anti-Communist education was far more strident in the past than it is today. We oppose the Chinese Communist regime. That does not mean we must deny that we are Chinese. Everyone still feels that China belongs to us. We on Taiwan still have a right to the Mainland, and a responsibility for China's future. The government of the Republic of China has never relinquished its hopes and dreams for the Chinese mainland.
Many people cite democracy, the rule of law, and political reform. They use it to underscore the gap between the two sides of the Strait. Some even demand that the Mainland authorities sell us on reunification by upgrading the Mainland's cultural standards. But consider the problems pragmatically. Consider issues such as responsibility, fairness, justice, the rule of law, efficiency, checks and balances, good governance, and policy transparency. The Chinese Communist Party is pursuing these modern standards as well. But this pursuit requires a process. People on Taiwan can underscore their own successful development. Their success can contribute to the modernization of the Chinese nation.
To cut through the fog, many of these issues are merely a matter of attitude. The public on Taiwan is afraid of reunification. People understand this. They refuse to be reunified under the Chinese Communist Party. But does the public have the ability to turn its thinking around? We on Taiwan boast that we are the saviors of Chinese civilization. We boast that we are its innovators. We feel a sense of superiority. Since that is the case, why can't we turn passivity into activity? Why can't we reclaim the ideological high ground? It matters not whether we advocate one China, different interpetations, one China, two regions, or argue that the two sides of the Strait are one people. The fact remains we all claim to be "Sons of the Dragon." We all advocate the modernization of our nation and our people. Why not let the two sides work hand in hand? Why not work together to achieve democracy and prosperity for the Chinese nation as a whole?
China's history is long. The currents of China's history are turbulent. Relative to China's long history, the two sides have been separated only briefly. They have had different political systems only briefly. Their differing political symbols should not constitute a long-term obstacle to a shared national identity. Chinese culture is inclusive, self-correcting, and infinitely adaptable. This trait has earned the world's admiration. Two CCP General Secretaries in a row, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, have said that the two sides must work together to rejuvenate Chinese civilization. President Ma Ying-jeou said we must strengthen Taiwan so that we may rejuvenate the Chinese nation. The two sides should begin here. They should realize that rejuvenating Chinese civilization and seeking a new future together, is their common destiny.
President Ma's first term brought order out of chaos. It established cross-Strait peace. His second term should be devoted to the rebirth of the nation as well as the consolidation of peace. The consolidation of peace, the promotion of mutual trust, and the restoration of our national identity require a cross-Strait joint effort. But most of all we hope the President will offer a new vision on New Year's Day. We hope he will offer concrete reasons and take concrete actions. With peaceful cross-strait relations as a premise, we hope he will help the nation reach a consensus concerning our national identity, and thereby offer new prospects for cross-Strait relations. Achieving these would ensure President Ma's legacy and his place in history.