Forswear Egocentrism: Cease Blaming Beijing Alone
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 16, 2015
Summary: Former legislator and television commentator Shen Fu-hsiung
recently offered some cross-Strait policy recommendations. He thinks the
Mainland faces a thorny dilemma, because all attempts to reunify,
threaten, bribe, or intimidate Taiwan have failed. He suggested that the
Mainland change its approach, and declare that "Taiwan is our long lost
sister. We will never forget our love for her. She may find herself at
the ends of the earth. But she will always have our blessing!" He said
that if Xi Jinping uttered these words, Taiwan would never run away.
Full Text Below:
legislator and television commentator Shen Fu-hsiung recently offered
some cross-Strait policy recommendations. He thinks the Mainland faces a
thorny dilemma, because all attempts to reunify, threaten, bribe, or
intimidate Taiwan have failed. He suggested that the Mainland change its
approach, and declare that "Taiwan is our long lost sister. We will
never forget our love for her. She may find herself at the ends of the
earth. But she will always have our blessing!" He said that if Xi
Jinping uttered these words, Taiwan would never run away.
officials charged with bringing Taiwan back into the fold find
themselves on the horns of a dilemma. Shen Fu-hsiung's analysis is
probably correct. But it inadvertently points out a blind spot in our
own thinking about cross-Strait relations, and that is Taiwan's
egocentrism. Suppose Taiwan does not see the Mainland as its sister.
Suppose Taiwan does not see the Mainland as a loved one. If Taiwan
persists in seeing the Mainland as its enemy, if it persists in fanning
the flames of anti-Mainland hatred, how can anyone reasonably expect the
Mainland to perceive Taiwan as its sister, and its loved one?
egocentrism marches in lockstep with simplistic delusions of
persecution. When the Mainland acts friendly toward Taiwan, that
friendliness is dismissed as a "united front tactics". When the Mainland
acts with hostility toward Taiwan, that hostility is denounced as
"oppressing Taiwan". When the Mainland offers tariff reductions via ECFA
or the STA and MTA, that generosity is characterized as "sugar-coated
poison". When the Mainland develops high-tech industries, the creation
of the Red Supply Chain is denounced as being “directed against
Taiwan". When the Mainland deploys missles as part of its national
defense strategy, those deployments are described as "missile threats"
against Taiwan, and demands are issued for their withdrawal.
you were Xi Jinping, how would you feel? A recent editorial in this
newspaper addressed the Red Supply Chain. Put ourselves in the
Mainland's shoes for a moment. The Mainland has 1.3 billion people to
feed. Of course it must promote industrial restructuring and upgrading.
During the 1970s, Li Kuo-ting promoted Science Parks and guided the
development of high-tech industries on Taiwan, for precisely the same
reasons. What does any of this have to do with "blockading" or
"oppressing” Taiwan? We see the 1500 short-range missiles the Mainland
has deployed as directed against us. But this is a kneejerk reaction.
Put ourselves in the Mainland's shoes. Taiwan is hardly the only
military force adjacent to the Mainland. If we were in charge of the
Mainland, we could hardly avoid the deployment of missiles along the
This reveals the degree to which
certain politicians and certain members of the public on Taiwan have
wallowed in egocentrism and delusions of persecution. Each and every
move by others is perceived as directed against them. They are akin to
spoiled children who expect others to cater to their every need, but
forget that respect must be reciprocated. How you expect others to treat
you, is how you must treat others.
Pundits on Taiwan
have often cited Mencius. They have lecture the Mainland about how
"Benevolence is treating major issues as minor". But Mencius' very next
observation was "Wisdom is treating minor issues as major". Have people
on Taiwan done this? Many on Taiwan have not treated the Mainland with
wisdom. They have responded to the Mainland with Boxer Rebellion style
foolhardiness. Provocations against the Mainland are equated with
courage and "love for Taiwan". These people are oblivious. They do not
realize they are merely accelerating Taiwan's self-marginalization.
Taiwan's international plight. The Mainland currently enjoys a huge
advantage. During the Two Chiangs' era, Taiwan depended upon the Cold
War standoff for survival. That era is long gone. Today, the United
States is not about to intervene militarily against the Mainland on
behalf of Taiwan. When the 2016 presidential election rolls around, will
the United States dispatch an aircraft carrier battle group to the
Taiwan Strait? No one can say. Taiwan's economy is no longer dominant
compared to the Mainland's. During the Lee Teng-hui era, Taiwan could
still get away with "avoid haste, exercise restraint" footdragging
tactics. Today, even that is impossible. We must immediately change out
attitude toward the Mainland. We must change our self-centered attitude.
We must cease assuming that the Mainland must curry favor with Taiwan.
Otherwise cross-Strait relations will remain insoluble. Worse still,
Taiwan's self-imposed isolation will become more severe.
for people on Taiwan to engage in introspection, does not mean that the
Mainland is always in the right. Nor does it mean we can indulge in
wishful, and assume that the Mainland will never oppress Taiwan. Many
of the Mainland's policies toward Taiwan need improvement. We have
repeatedly called on the Mainland to acknowledge the Republic of China's
indisputable existence. People on Taiwan want to participate in
international activities. The Mainland must be more responsive to this.
But goodwill cannot remain one-sided. People on Taiwan must also do more
in this respect.
Taiwan must learn from history. The
CCP may still oppress Taiwan. But if anyone had a right to complain, it
was Taiwan under the Two Chiangs, 30 years ago. Between 1950 and 1960,
the hot war between the KMT and the CCP continued to rage. Taiwan was at
in danger of being inundated. As late as the 1970s, when the KMT and
CCP ended their hot war, Taiwan endured unprecedented diplomatic
isolation. It was forced to withdraw from the United Nations. The United
States broke off diplomatic relations. Taiwan became the “orphan of
Asia”. If anyone has a right to complain about outrages against Taiwan,
it would be Taiwan under the Two Chiangs. Chinese Communist Party
hostility toward Taiwan was a thousand times worse than it is today. But
back then the government and the public had no time to feel sorry for
themselves. A sense of urgency raised public morale, resulting in
progress. Taiwan's economy took off and inspired international respect
for Taiwan's economic miracle.
Treating the Mainland as
the culprit, and the sole reason for Taiwan's current plight is easy.
But it will not change the status quo or overcome difficulties. On the
contrary. Sealing our doors, complaining, and wallowing in self-pity,
will only cut short self-introspection and halt further progress.
must set aside our delusions of persecution. We must lay down our
egocentrism. Mainland China's rise is irreversible. Boxer Rebellion
style foolhardiness is unwise. We should be thinking about how the rise
of the Mainland is setting the stage for Taiwan's reinvigoration, by
opening it up to new opportunities. This is how we must respond to
concerns over cross-Strait relations and Taiwan's worrisome future.