China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 22, 2016
Executive Summary: National identity is clearly not "natural". Rather it is an artificial construct resulting from political and social forces. Natural independence vs. inevitable reunification is a paradox. Cross-Strait relations may look bad on occasion. But impressions of the CCP are improving. This shows that national identity is a dynamic process. It is only two months until Tsai Ing-wen's May 20 inaugural address. We hope the green camp and the Mainland will not remain hostages to the past. They must change with the times. They must narrow the gap between imaginary cross-Strait relations and actual cross-Strait relations. Only then can cross-Strait peace be maintained.
Full Text Below:
For the past 20 years, reunification vs. independence storm clouds have darkened the skies above Taiwan. They have influenced peoples' sense of national identity, changed the balance of power, and provoked conflict between Taiwan, the Mainland, and foreign nations. The issue is too important to ignore. Over the years, academic and the media have periodically conducted polls to understand the problem. Their findings seem plausible, and many people are convinced they are true.
But different institutions have different agendas. Different poll designs and different polling methods lead to different results. This is why the outcome of so many polls contradict each other.
For example, according to a poll released on March 14, the number of people who consider themselves "Taiwanese" has climbed a new high over the past 20 years, from 44% to 73%. The number of people who consider themselves “Chinese”, on the other hand, has reached new lows. Another related poll, the Taiwan index poll published on the same day, asked “Are both sides of the Strait part of one China?”. If the one China referred to was the "People's Republic of China", 81.6% said no. If the one China referred to was the "Republic of China", 60% still said no. The younger the person polled, the more likely they would find the proposition, “Both sides of the Strait are part of one China” unacceptable. But the Taiwan index poll also asked people about their attitudes toward the Chinese Communist Party. As many as 13.7% had a favorable opinion of the CCP, nearly the same percentage as the KMT. Interestingly enough, even though cross-Strait relations have become more strained, more people have a favorable opinion of the CCP than ever. Another figure emerged from an Academia Sinica survey conducted last year. When asked to make a “subjective choice” between reunification and independence, 46.6% chose independence. But when asked for an "objective prediction" of the future, 49.7% believed the two sides would be reunified under the PRC.
These complex, even contradictory poll numbers reflect a number of phenomena. First. Twenty years of political indoctrination has convinced 70% of the public that “Taiwanese" and "Chinese" are "foreign to each other". Second. Those who do not consider “both sides of the Strait part of one China", also oppose reunification. Here, the gap between blue and green is not great. Third. Roughly 60% want to maintain the cross-Strait status quo. But the KMT's status quo is "no reunification and no independence". The DPP's status quo however, is "Taiwan or the ROC is already independent".
If these three observations are correct, a question arises. National identity has undergone a huge change in 20 years. The blue and green camps have a very different perceptions of what constitutes the status quo, and what the name of the nation ought to be. Clearly all such perceptions are constructs. Clearly there is no such thing as "natural independence". There is no "natural independence", just as there is no "natural reunification". All national identities are constructs, created by systems of political indoctrination and media bias. Whether the two sides eventually separate or reunify, depends entirely on the two sides' education, willpower, and strength.
Academia Sinica poll numbers show that nearly half the population wants independence. But nearly half of the population expects Taiwan to eventually be reunified by the Mainland. This is worth noting. It means that the educational system has indoctrinated
half the population with Taiwan independence. But half the population believes nevertheless that Taiwan's determination to seek independence, is no match for the Mainland's determination to reunify China. They have concluded therefore, that in the end, Taiwan is destined to be reunified.
The DPP revels in "natural independence". Yet half of the population expects "inevitable reunification". This cognitive dissonance derives from the gap between an imaginary cross-Strait relationship, and the actual cross-Strait relationship. On the one hand, there has been no threat of war for some time. But de-Sinicization political indoctrination has accustomed people to thinking of Mainlanders as “The Other”, rather than as “Family Members”. Their imaginary cross-Strait relationship is considered Politically Correct. The Ma government was in office for eight years. National identity was viewed as "one China, different interpretations". Unfortunately over-emphasis was given to “different interpretations”, which stressed that the two sides were different, and that relations were between “us” and “them”. Only Beijing argued that "boths sides are part of one China", and strengthened cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges based on objective strategic considerations. Beijing exercised restraint and implemented a diplomatic truce. Beijing allowed people to think that “different interpretations” would provide the two sides with a stable cross-Strait framework. Now however, poll data from the Ma government's eight years in office, show that differences in national identity have increased rapidly. This was the result of “different interpretations”.
On the other hand, half the people understand that the actual cross-Strait relationship will not dance to the tune of the green camp's imaginary cross-Strait relationship. Expectations, after all, are merely expectations. The Kuomintang and the DPP, which does not accept the 1992 Consensus, each have their own approach. But both are merely avoiding the problem.
Evaluations of the Chinese Communist Party remain low, but are improving. This is a noteworthy phenomenon. But evaluations of the CCP and support for reunification are different matters. The two may bear a relationship with each other. But positive evaluations of the CCP are not the chief variable. One may be friendly towards another party. But that does not mean one wishes to unite with them. Good feelings toward the Mainland will however increase cross-Strait harmony. The Mainland should consider this a positive indicator of public sentiment.
National identity is clearly not "natural". Rather it is an artificial construct resulting from political and social forces. Natural independence vs. inevitable reunification is a paradox. Cross-Strait relations may look bad on occasion. But impressions of the CCP are improving. This shows that national identity is a dynamic process. It is only two months until Tsai Ing-wen's May 20 inaugural address. We hope the green camp and the Mainland will not remain hostages to the past. They must change with the times. They must narrow the gap between imaginary cross-Strait relations and actual cross-Strait relations. Only then can cross-Strait peace be maintained.
影響民眾國族認同並引導各項議題的發展，甚至改變了權力板塊， 帶來台灣和大陸及世界關係的衝擊。這個問題太重要， 學術與新聞機構多年來持續進行有關的民調， 試圖理解這朦朧不去的霧靄。調查結果看似有理， 許多人也深信不疑。
年前的4成4大幅成長為7成3，創下新高； 覺得自己是中國人的比率則創新低。另一個相關民調， 台灣指標民調同日公布，對於「兩岸同屬一中」認知，如果指的是「 中華人民共和國」，有81.6%不能接受，如果指的是「 中華民國」，也仍有高達60%不能接受，越年輕者對於「 兩岸同屬一中」越不能接受。 但台灣指標民調還做了台灣人對共產黨「好感度」調查，正向占13 .7%，已接近國民黨，有趣的是，兩岸關係雖轉趨緊張， 對共產黨的好感度卻比前一次提高。 另外一個數字是去年中研院社會所的一項調查，對統獨的「 主觀選擇」有46.6%選擇獨立，但對未來的「客觀預測」卻有4 9.7%認為會「被統一」。
經歷20多年的政治操作，已有7成左右的人視「台灣人」與「 中國人」為「異己關係」。第二、不認同「兩岸同屬一中」者， 或可解讀為不贊成兩岸應統一者，藍綠的差距並不大。第三、約有6 成希望維持兩岸現狀，但國民黨認為「現狀」就是「不統不獨」， 民進黨則認為「台灣／中華民國已經獨立」才是現狀。
多年間可以發生如此巨大的變化，藍綠對於「現狀」、「 國家名稱內涵」可以有如此不同的認知， 顯然所有的認同都是建構出來的，沒有所謂的「天然獨」。 沒有所謂的「天然獨」，也就不會有「天然統」， 所有的國族認同其實都是透過政治教育與媒體態度建構而成， 兩岸最後是獨或統，取決於雙方的認同教育、意志力與實力。
但是也有近半數預測最後的結果將是台灣被大陸統一， 就非常值得注意，這表示有半數接受了「獨」的認同教育， 但是也有約半數民眾認為，台灣追求「獨」 的力量及意志不足以抵擋大陸「統」的決心，最後「必然被統」。
這個矛盾的認知是來自於台灣民眾在面對「想像的兩岸」與「 真實的兩岸」時的誤差。一方面， 兩岸長期處於沒有戰爭威脅的狀態，又受到「去中國化」的操作， 民眾已經習慣於把大陸視為「他者」，而非「一家親」。 他們用自己的想像去看兩岸關係，並認為這才是「政治正確」。 馬政府執政8年期間，在「國族認同」方面，以「一中各表」 為論述基礎，但強調的是「各表」，即視兩岸為「各是各」的「 異己關係」。而僅主張「兩岸同屬一中」的北京， 在基於加強兩岸經貿交流為更重要戰略目標的考量下， 自制地在外交上進行休兵，讓民眾認為「各表」 是可以讓兩岸關係穩定的有效論述。從民調的階段性數據可以看出， 馬政府執政8年期間，兩岸在「國族認同」上的分歧快速加大， 正是民眾自認為兩岸關係可以長期「各表」的展現。
更是一個值得關注的現象。不過對共產黨的友善與否， 與是否支持統一仍是兩個不同面向的指標， 它們之間或許是有關的依變數，但「好感」不會是關鍵的主變數。 例如，我們可以對一個國家友善或不友善， 但不表示我們就會同意與對方統一或衝突，不過，對大陸「好感」 將有助於增加兩岸「和合」的機會。對大陸而言， 這應該是值得重視的民意訊號。
天然獨」與「必然統」矛盾現象可以並存，兩岸關係看壞之際， 對中共的好感度反而提高，顯示認同問題的流動現象。距離蔡英文5 20就職演說僅剩下兩個月時間， 希望泛綠及大陸都不要被過去經驗綁架， 應該調整現在的思維及作法，讓「想像的兩岸」與「事實的兩岸」 差距縮小，讓兩岸和平發展關係繼續下去。