Taiwan Independence: DPP Successes and Failures
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 29, 2013
Summary: When human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng met with Su Tseng-chang, he told Su bluntly, "The idea of Taiwan independence is outdated." The DPP is currently debating whether to issue a public statement on Chen Shui-bian's successes and failures. In fact, it should be debating whether to issue a public statement on the DPP's successes and failures vis a vis Taiwan independence. If the DPP can arrive at a balanced evaluation of its successes and failures vis a vis Taiwan independence, then Chen Shui-bian's successes and failures will be self-evident.
Full Text below:
When human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng met with Su Tseng-chang, he told Su bluntly, "The idea of Taiwan independence is outdated." The DPP is currently debating whether to issue a public statement on Chen Shui-bian's successes and failures. In fact, it should be debating whether to issue a public statement on the DPP's successes and failures vis a vis Taiwan independence. If the DPP can arrive at a balanced evaluation of its successes and failures vis a vis Taiwan independence, then Chen Shui-bian's successes and failures will be self-evident.
Su Tseng-chang said the party "must turn back the clock and promote Taiwan independence." His remark carries with it three implications. One. In the past the DPP promoted Taiwan independence; Two. In the future, the DPP will no longer promote Taiwan independence. Three. Promoting Taiwan independence is an outdated effort to turn back the clock. Over the past six decades, the Taiwan independence movement and the pro-democracy movement have worked hand in hand. The promotion of Taiwan independence has often been characterized as the promotion of democracy. AT other times, the pro-democracy movement has relied on Taiwan independence as its driving force. Is the DPP willing to engage in an honest evaluation of its successes and failures vis a vis Taiwan independence? If it is not, then talk of "not turning the clock back and promoting Taiwan independence" is mere lip service.
First consider the DPP's successes. One. It succeeded in increasing the momentum of the pro-democracy movement. Two. Its promotion of a "Taiwan independence consciousness" succeeded in inspiring a "Taiwanese consciousness" and establishing "Taiwan's primacy." Three. It succeeded in its role as "bad cop" in cross-Strait relations. Four. In cross-Strait relations, it succeeded in providing our side with greater in-depth defense. Five. It succeeded in its effort to undermine the nation and incite social divisions, and mischaracterize this effort as "the promotion of democracy."
Consider the DPP's failures vis a vis Taiwan independence. One. It failed to promote democracy. Instead it incited a "democratic civil war" that tore Taiwan apart. Two. As the record shows, it failed to counter the PRC's strategic moves. Three. It failed to "defend Taiwan." Its fanatical attempts to "de-Sinicize" Taiwan and to "purge all traces of the Republic of China" weakened the Republic of China and left Taiwan more vulnerable. Four. It failed to "raise Taiwan's international profile." Instead, it merely turned Taiwan into an international "troublemaker," and undermined Taiwan's international status. Five. Lee Teng-hui's repeated flip-flopping and Chen Shui-bian's unbridled corruption failed Taiwan independence. Their conduct undermined the credibility of Taiwan independence and deprived it of the moral high ground.
The Taiwan independence movement seeks the overthrow of the Republic of China. It sees this as the pro-democracy movement's highest end. It sees this as a means of countering the CCP's strategic moves. But it has failed on both count. Consider its attempt to overthrow the Republic of China. The Taiwan independence movement's greatest achievement was winning the right to rule the Republic of China in 2000, under the guise of the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future." In 2004, it prolonged its rule for another four years, via the "Two Bullets Assassination Attempt," a false flag operation. It unsuccessfully promoted the "rectification of names," the "referendum to join the UN," the concept of "one nation on each side," and other forms of street violence. In 2008, having failed to achieve its goal of overthrowing the Republic of China, it lost power and was forced to step down. As we can see, the ROC may undergo ruling party changes. But that does not mean the DPP can use them to overthrow the Republic of China and establish a "Republic of Taiwan."
Now consider the DPP's attempt to counter the Peoples Republic of China. Chen Shui-bian was in power for eight years. He found himself in a standoff, during which Beijing "listened to what he said, and watched what he did." Tsai Ing-wen's stubborn opposition to ECFA made her the butt of jokes. As we can see, Taiwan independence efforts to counter strategic moves by the Peoples Republic of China have failed. These are all reasons why Su Tseng-chang vowed that the DPP "would not turn back the clock and promote Taiwan independence."
In the early years, when Taiwan independence got its start, at home and abroad, Taiwan was under martial law. Mainland China was caught up in the Cultural Revolution. It was understandable that many young people would dedicate themselves to Taiwan independence. The Taiwan independence movement did indeed provide democracy on Taiwan with added momentum. But today's Republic of China already is a democracy. The Taiwan independence movement may be able to effect ruling party changes. But it will not be able to implement the "rectification of names." The hot topic on Mainland China today is the "Chinese Dream" and a "Renaissance of the Chinese People." The public on Taiwan must adopt a more mature, more strategically minded perspective on national and constitutional allegiance. The Taiwan independence movement has unwittingly taken a stand antithetical to democracy on Taiwan. It has even become a threat to Taiwan's security and economic growth.
Taiwan independence advocacy within today's DPP falls into two categories. The first is old style Taiwan independence. Exemplars include Koo Kuan-min and Lee Teng-hui. They are either lifelong advocates of Taiwan independence, or individuals whose place in history precludes retreat. They cannot alter course. The other category is instrumental style Taiwan independence. Exemplars include Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen. On the one hand, they argue that the DPP "must not turn back the clock and promote Taiwan independence." On the other hand they persist in promoting "backdoor listing" style Taiwan independence. The old style Taiwan independence advocates inspire pity. Forsaking Taiwan independence for them means forsaking values they have held all their lives. But instrumental style Taiwan independence advocates inspire merely contempt. They are constantly checking the wind direction. They are constantly hedging their bets. For them, the Republic of China and Taiwan are political tools. They feel no loyalty to either. They feel no responsibility to either.
Today, "Taiwan's primacy" rests on the Republic of China. The Republic of China has become a model democracy. It was tolerant enough to allow a political party that advocates Taiwan independence to rule for eight years. The Republic of China has a constitutional framework that must be upheld when dealing with the Mainland. During democratization, the Taiwan independence movement attempted to disparage the Republic of China. Instead, it inadvertently underscored the political value of the Republic of China, and the moral legitimacy of the Republic of China. Over the past six decades, Taiwan's relationship with the Mainland, the international community, and its internal circumstances have all changed dramatically. Taiwan truly cannot "turn back the clock and promote Taiwan independence."
Taiwan has long been mired in self-pity. The emergence of a Taiwan independence mindset 30 years ago was perfectly understandable. Taiwan's plight today remains difficult. But that is precisely why it is inconceivable anyone could still believe that Taiwan independence is the answer. Over the past six decades, Taiwan independence ideology played a part in Taiwan's evolution. But Taiwan independence has reached the end of its rope. It can go no further. Taiwan independence is an ideological rut. We cannot turn back the clock. We cannot permit Taiwan independence to obstruct and harass the Republic of China, which still faces a difficult future.
Taiwan independence will not vanish from Taiwan. But the DPP is one of Taiwan's major political parties. It simply cannot "turn back the clock and promote Taiwan independence." Was "love of Taiwan" really it original motive for Taiwan independence? If it was, then it is time to allow et both Taiwan and the Republic of China to survive.
2013.06.29 03:46 am