Urgent Need for Old and New Generation Cooperation on Reunification
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 17, 2015
Executive Summary: "Natural independence" is a new buzzword that emerged from the Sunflower
Student Movement. It refers to a new phenomenon in Taiwan's political
environment. Just what is "natural independence"? Taiwan independence
theoretician Lin Cho-shui explains. "The older generation's education
determined its sense of national identity. Reunification was then a
mainstream value. Reunification for them became second nature.
Considerable soul searching was necessary before they could become
reoriented toward independence. But young people are growing up in an
era when Taiwan independence is the mainstream value. Therefore they
exemplify "natural independence".
Full Text Below:
"Natural independence" is a new buzzword that emerged from the Sunflower Student Movement. It refers to a new phenomenon in Taiwan's political environment. Just what is "natural independence"? Taiwan independence theoretician Lin Cho-shui explains. "The older generation's education determined its sense of national identity. Reunification was then a mainstream value. Reunification for them became second nature. Considerable soul searching was necessary before they could become reoriented toward independence. But young people are growing up in an era when Taiwan independence is the mainstream value. Therefore they exemplify "natural independence".
The claim that "Taiwan independence has become a mainstream value" is of course an exaggeration. It would be more accurate to say that a "Taiwanese consciousness" and "Taiwan consciousness" are mainstream values. Just before the Sunflower Student Movement erupted, a TVBS opinion poll showed that 78% of people consider themselves Taiwanese. Among these, 89% of 20 to 29 year olds consider themselves Taiwanese. This is higher even than the percentage for those over 60. Thinking of oneself as Taiwanese however, is hardly the same as advocating Taiwan independence. But intervention by political and social forces does indeed cultivate advocates for Taiwan independence.
This reveals the internal contradiction in "natural independence" rhetoric. Were it not for the intervention of political and social forces, Taiwanese consciousness would not naturally lead to calls for Taiwan independence. So-called "natural independence" ideology is anything but natural. It would be more accurate to call it "new independence" thought. In fact advocate of "natural independence" Lin Cho-shui made a Freudian slip when he said, "We should rejoice. For the past 20 years the DPP has bickered over the Taiwan independence party platform. Fortunately however, it never gave up. Otherwise, it is doubtful whether Taiwan society today would be one of "natural independence". This confirms that the DPP Taiwan independence party platform and other Taiwan independence movements created "new Taiwan independence" thinking.
Lin Cho-shui said something else interesting. He said "New Taiwan independence forces have given Chairman Tsai Ing-wen a huge boost". He said this was the reason Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan independence consciousness has become a "natural ingredient" for the younger generation. Tsai Ing-wen's statement was made after the Sunflower Student Movement incident ended, and before last year's DPP National Party Congress convened. Her motive was to fend off public demands that the DPP to freeze its Taiwan independence party platform.
With the encouragement of new Taiwan independence forces, Tsai Ing-wen argued that the Taiwan independence party platform was the reason the Democratic Progressive party was founded. It was the ideal pursued by that generation of DPP leaders. It accompanied Taiwan's democratization. We created a deep seated "Taiwan consciousness", she said. This identification with Taiwan and this demand for independence, has become a "natural ingredient" for the younger generation. How can we "freeze' such a state? How can be "abolish" it? Tsai's statement was significant, Tsai Ing-wen is middle-aged. She is caught between old Taiwan independence and new Taiwan independence. In the past her Taiwan independence colors were hidden. Now however, she has openly declared that Taiwan independence was her generation's ideal. She admitted that Taiwan consciousness was something "We created". It was the result of DPP promotion. It was hardly a "natural ingredient".
Tsai Ing-wen's refusal to freeze the Taiwan independence party platform shows what Tsai Ing-wen means by "maintaining the status quo". Meanwhile, Sunflower Student Movement leader Huang Kuo-chang formed a radical fringe outside the DPP. Recently it merged with old Taiwan independence elements, and plans to cooperate on matters of organization, resources, and elections. In fact, the announcement of this cooperation was premeditated. In early July, the "New Power Party" declared that many younger generation members already exemplify "natural independence". These younger generation members would "pursue the normalization of Taiwan statehood" as a party platform. They would become the founders of the New Power Party. The New Power Party would be more radical than the DPP. It would promote cross-Strait oversight regulations, constitutional reform. It would abolish the Act Governing Relations between Peoples on both Sides of the Strait. It would participate in international activities under the name "Taiwan". It would "establish normal diplomatic relations with [Mainland] China". These five projects would purportedly "complete the normalization of Taiwan statehood". The New Power Party's position is quite clear. Its pro-independence colors are unmistakable. It supports Tsai Ing-wen. It seeks to merge old and new Taiwan independence forces to acquire more power. The old politicians of the TSU operate outside the KMT and DPP. The New Power Party, by contrast, will have better mobilization skills, more persuasive rhetoric, and a better public image. Next year, when its candidates are elected to the legislature, it will force the DPP to push harder for Taiwan independence. Its radical ideas on cross-Strait relations will become a major factor.
New and old Taiwan independence forces are merging. They are gradually rallying middle-aged Taiwan independence advocates. This should send a message to pro-Chinese reunification and pro-Mainland forces. According to a 1111 Job Bank survey, 61% of the public wants to "Go West" and work on the Mainland. The youngest among these hope to go to the Mainland to work. Others hope to go to the Mainland to study. When this younger generation joins the workforce, it will face a harsh cross-Strait and international reality. It will face an underlying framework that is pro-[Mainland]China, and pro-Chinese reunification.
This underlying framework can aid Chinese reunification. It can play a significant role in Taiwan society. But first champions of reunification must play a more aggressive role. Older generation pro-reunification scholars, business leaders with social networks, and politicians who share these ideals and values must create a hotbed for the cultivation of of Chinese reunification ideology, rhetoric, and social relations. .
Even more importantly, this generation, which constitutes the backbone of society, must safeguard the ROC Constitution. It must defend the Constitution, and reaffirm the China Factor during ideological debates. The Taiwan independence party platform plays a key role in new Taiwan independence. The ROC Constitution must play a corresponding role in Chinese reunification. It must not be shaken, frozen, or weakened.