Decoding Tsai Ing-wen's "I am Taiwanese."
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 21, 2011
"I am Taiwanese, I am Tsai Ing-wen," This declaration means that "Ma Ying-jeou is not Taiwanese." It means also that "They are not Taiwanese." That is, those who support Ma are "not Taiwanese." Tsai's declaration does not just divide Ma from Tsai. It divides society as well.
Just exactly what is Ma Ying-jeou? According to Green Camp political logic, Ma Ying-jeou is a "mainlander." By implication, Ma Ying-jeou is "Chinese." By further implication, he is a "Chi-Com fellow traveler." Context reveals meaning. Ma Ying-jeou, by implication, is "not Taiwanese." In fact, Tsai's declaration is merely a sanitized version of "Chinese pigs, get the hell back to China." According to Green Camp logic, Ma Ying-jeou stands for a "foreign regime," for "eventual reunification," and for "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." Therefore Ma Ying-jeou is "not Taiwanese," By implication he is "Chinese," just like "those people" on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Therefore Green Camp political rhetoric often equates the China Nationalist Party with the Chinese Communist Party. Lashing out at the Kuomintang means lashing out at the Chinese Communists. Sometimes it even equates the Republic of China with the Peoples Republic of China. Opposition to the ROC is hence equated with opposition to the PRC.
The Republic of China government has scant wherewithal currently to represent China as a whole. This is primarily the fault of Beijing. Few people on Taiwan identify themselves as "Chinese." This too is primarily the fault of Beijing. Therefore when Taiwan independence advocates incite "ethnic struggles," they spin them as showdowns between "Taiwanese" on the one side, and "Chinese" on the other. On Taiwan, being labeled "Chinese" is now the equivalent of being a "Chinese" person from the other side of the Taiwan Strait. The term "Taiwanese" is no longer merely an antonym for "Mainlander." That merely invokes the issue of "ethnicity," or more accurately, provincial origin. Today the term "Taiwanese" has been transformed into an antonym for "Chinese." That invokes the issue of "national identity." According to the self-styled "Taiwanese" in today's Democratic Progressive Party, the Republic of China is a "foreign regime." Ma Ying-jeou is a "Territorial Governor," and supporters of the Republic of China are "Chinese." By implication, opposition to Taiwan independence is opposition to Taiwan. Opposition to Taiwan independence is "lack of love for Taiwan." Opposition to Taiwan independence is proof positive that one is "not Taiwanese." This is the clear and unambiguous subtext behind Tsai Ing-wen's declaration, "I am Taiwanese,"
But champions of this rhetorical framework must prove that Taiwan independence is the only way to save Taiwan, and the only way to demonstrate one's love for Taiwan. Unfortunately for them, Taiwan independence is a movement whose time has come and gone. Since martial law was lifted, Taiwan has been subjected to over 20 years of internal and external shocks. These shocks swept Taiwan independence into the dustbin of history. With their ringing declarations that "I am Taiwanese," Tsai Ing-wen and DPP officials are encouraging Taiwan independence supporters to cling to their delusions. They are inciting social divisions. In fact, Tsai and the DPP no longer have the chutzpah to openly champion Taiwan independence. Otherwise, Tsai Ing-wen would have come right out and declared, "I am a champion of Taiwan independence. I am Tsai Ing-wen!"
This is the pathetic reality behind this political farce. Chinese from the other side of the Taiwan Strait have become "Mainland tourists." They have become Taiwan's "sixth ethnic group," second only to foreign spouses. Tsai Ing-wen was encouraging delusions of Taiwan independence. Why else would she revive the long dead Taiwan independence mantra, "I am Taiwanese?" Since she insists on reviving the "I am Taiwanese" mantra, why not use the more common phrase, "My Nation of Taiwan compatriots?" Why not come right out and champion Taiwan independence?
This has long been the plight of the Democratic Progressive Party. It flirts with Taiwan independence, but does not dare openly champion Taiwan independence. Unfortunately, Tsai Ing-wen remains trapped within this dilemma of self-delusion. Tsai Ing-wen opposes the 1992 consensus. She opposes ECFA. She opposes "politically motivated procurements." All her positions are based on Taiwan independence political and economic logic. But when all is said and done, she cannot publicly champion Taiwan independence. Tsai Ing-wen remains trapped. She can flirt with Taiwan independence, but she cannot openly promote Taiwan independence. In which case, what are we to make of her "Taiwan Next" gimmick?
Three years ago, Tsai Ing-wen became Democratic Progressive Party Chairman. She clearly hoped to shrug off this albatrosss around her neck. In March 2009, she issued a manifesto entitled, "Defend Taiwan with a New Concept of Nativism." She said "Some people have unintentionally [sic] defined Nativism far too narrowly. They have invested it with a specific meaning. Their narrow definition of Nativism is at odds with our need to unite for our collective survival." What does Tsai Ing-wen plan to do with her "I am Taiwanese" TV spot, which intentionally defines Nativism ar too narrowly.
DPP officials can no longer talk through their hats. They can no longer treat the term "Taiwanese" as their private property. Taiwan independence advocates can not longer treat the term "Taiwanese" as their private property, And finally, Tsai Ing-wen has no right to treat the term "Taiwanese" as her private property. Taiwan independence is an ideology that can only create chaos on Taiwan. It cannot save Taiwan. Therefore, it is not a means by which one can demonstrate "love for Taiwan." Taiwan independence advocates must cease using the terms "Republic of China" and "Nation of Taiwan" to divide the nation, They must cease using the declaration that "I am Taiwanese (whereas you are not)" to divide Taiwan.
Some people may persist in using such terms as "love for Taiwan" and "Save Taiwan" to define who is "Taiwanese." Perhaps we should compare Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen. Which of the two has demonstrated greater allegiance to the nation's Constitution? Which of the two has crafted a cross-Strait policy that has benefitted the public on Taiwan? Which of the two deserves the honorific "Taiwanese" more? Perhaps we should let the public decide.
Tsai Ing-wen did not say "I am a champion of Taiwan independence, I am Tsai Ing-wen." She was afraid even to whisper it. Why do DPP officials insist on flirting with Taiwan independence, when they are afraid to champion it?
2011.07.21 02:32 am