Sunflower Student Movement: Leftist Taiwan Independence
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
April 28, 2014
Summary: Several Sunflower Student Movement leaders have publicly declared, "I advocate Taiwan independence." They have also described themselves as "leftist advocates of Taiwan independence." For them, Taiwan independence is their political path. Leftism is their socio-economic path. But if the student movement leaders realize that a genuine commitment to the ROC is Taiwan's only way out, they should hold a protest march demanding that the Legislative Yuan pass a "market price real estate tax assessment bill." That might actually win praise from leftists.
Full text below:
Several Sunflower Student Movement leaders have publicly declared, "I advocate Taiwan independence." They have also described themselves as "leftist advocates of Taiwan independence." For them, Taiwan independence is their political path. Leftism is their socio-economic path.
Taiwan independence and social reform were once the DPP's two pillars. In recent years, a new generation has assumed the mantle of "leftist Taiwan independence" and attempted to formulate a theoretical rationale for their belief system. During the 2012 election, Tsai Ing-wen advocated "approaching [Mainland] China via the world," and "globalization without [Mainland] China." She also advocated a "high degree of social welfare" and a "local economy." She advocated a "leftist Taiwan independence" theoretical framework. We labeled her path "Taiwan independence welfare statism."
But Tsai's leftist socio-economic path is fundamentally at odds with her Taiwan independence political path. Taiwan independence cannot coexist alongside cross-Strait economic and trade relations. Therefore it rejects globalization a survival strategy. But such a political and economic framework cannot afford the high cost of environmental protection and social welfare. Still less can it afford to reduce wealth inequality.
One cannot implement Taiwan independence without a Closed Door Policy. That is why Taiwan independence must oppose globalization. Taiwan independence rooted in a Closed Door Policy will never be able to afford the cost of a welfare state. Leftist commitment to the welfare state, conversely, can only lead to loss of support for Taiwan independence. The two are mutually exclusive. They cannot coexist. Therefore this check is one that must eventually bounce.
Consider the Sunflower Student Movement's brand of Taiwan independence. Most members of the Sunflower Student Movement are not Taiwan independence advocates. It is merely their leaders who have declared their support for Taiwan independence. Their leaders support the "Articles Pertaining to the Concluding of Cross-Strait Agreements." Basically they hope to hijack the government in order to implement a Taiwan independence oriented cross-Strait policy.
The Sunflower Student Movement's brand of Taiwan independence apparently does not seek to establish a "Republic of Taiwan." Instead it attempts to implement "one nation on each side," by "backdoor listing" the ROC. Taiwan independence opposition to the STA is hardly surprising. The STA improves cross-Strait economic and trade relations. It pushes Taiwan closer to globalization. This is detrimental to Taiwan independence. Conversely, those who are genuine about the ROC political path, tend to support cross-Strait economic exchanges. They support using the outcome of globalization to control cross-Strait relations. The anti-STA protests led to the "Articles Pertaining to the Concluding of Cross-Strait Agreements." This made it abundantly clear that the protests were actually Taiwan independence protests led by the oligarchs of the student movement.
Now consider the Sunflower Student Movement's leftism. The central figures in the recent student movement were all familiar faces, invariably in attendence during recent social movements. They opposed Guoguang Petrochemical. They opposed the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. They opposed Wenlin Yuan. They opposed Ta Pu, they opposed the relocation of the Tainan railway. They opposed the STA. They opposed globalization. They stressed generational deprivation and inequality. Such are the leftist elements in their agenda. On the one hand they have used draconian environmental standards to challenge the economic model. To wit, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. On the other hand they have stressed individual rights over community aspirations, To wit, Wenlin Yuan. Will this leftist political protest against STA, against liberalization, and against globalization, prevent Taipei from joining the TPP and RCEP? Will it force Taiwan to pay 5 to 10% more in tariffs than 90% of its competitors in the export market? This is a question these leftists have no desire to confront and answer. Leftists don't care if Taiwan businesses are unable to compete with Korea in ramen noodle sales in Britain.
Leftist advocates of Taiwan independence may oppose the STA. They may use the Articles Pertaining to the Concludiing of Cross-Strait Agreements to repudiate ECFA in toto. But leftist advocates of Taiwan independence must not prevent Taipei from joining the TPP, RCEP and other major FTAs. Leftist advocates of Taiwan independence may reject globalization. But they cannot prevent globalization. When 90% of Taiwan's exports are subject to 10% tariffs, when Taiwan is totally marginalized by globalization, how will Leftist advocates of Taiwan independence pay for high environmental protection standards, high-wage standards, and Taiwan independence welfare statism? The fact is, when Taiwan is marginalized by globalization, it will be even more dependent on trade with Mainland China.
Therefore, "leftist Taiwan independence" is merely a political patchwork quilt, one that attempts to add a moral sheen to Taiwan independence. In fact, it is a self-refuting paradox. The more leftist it is, the less it will be able to afford Taiwan independence. The more committed to Taiwan independence it is, the less it will be able to afford leftist policies. In reality, a Taiwan independence welfare state is an impossible utopia.
The more fundamental problem is that leftism and Taiwan independence are usually nothing more than political bargaining chips. The person holding them knows they are no solution to the problems. They merely use them to incite mob sentiment. In 2008, when Tsai Ing-wen led the anti-ECFA protests, she was engaging in classic "leftist Taiwan independence." But by the time of the 2012 election, she was forced to eat her words, and adopt unconditionally the very same Ma administration "crapper" policies she previously denounced as "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan," and "forfeiting sovereignty and humiliating the nation." Tsai thought she could create a "local economy" out of nothing. But take a look at the Mainland tourists at the night market in Kaohsiung. What part of that represents is a "local economy," and what part of that represents "cross-Strait economic and trade relations?" Students can play trendy "leftist Taiwan independence" games. But can Tsai Ing-wen pretend not to know better?
If the student movement leaders realize that a genuine commitment to the ROC is Taiwan's only way out, they should hold a protest march demanding that the Legislative Yuan pass a "market price real estate tax assessment bill." That might actually win praise from leftists.
2014.04.28 03:04 am