Taiwan Independence and Number Four Nuclear Power Plant Deactivation: Neither is Justified
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 19, 2013
Summary: Taiwan independence differs from the crusade to abolish the 4NPP. Taiwan independence advocates do not fear a referendum on the 4NPP. Taiwan independence may divide Taiwan. But so far it has yet to be fatal. Halting construction of the 4NPP, and immediately abolishing nuclear power generation may well be. A public referendum is imminent. Even Lee Teng-hui is wondering, "What will Taiwan's future be?"
Full text below:
Lee Teng-hui ruled for 12 years. During and after his reign, he adopted a Taiwan independence path even more extreme than the DPP's. The DPP now aggressively champions halting and abolishing nuclear power generation. Lee Teng-hui, on the other hand, has yet to change his support for nuclear power generation. This difference has interesting implications.
Lee follows the same Taiwan independence path as the DPP. Lee differs however, on nuclear power generation. Lee Teng-hui has cast doubt on Tsai Ing-wen's "nuclear-free homeland" initiative more than once. He wondered, "Is it possible to go non-nuclear?" He wondered, "Without nuclear power, what will Taiwan's future be?"
Taiwan independence, basically, is nothing more than demagoguery. It is a tool for power struggles within the Green Camp, between the TSU and the DPP, and betweeen Su Tseng-chang and Frank Hsieh. It is a tool for power struggles between the Green Camp and the Blue Camp, between the DPP and the KMT. In fact, all of the parties involved know that Taiwan independence is impossible. Therefore Lee Teng-hui has used the pro-Taiwan independence Taiwan Solidarity Union to hijack the DPP, and support Tsai Ing-wen's bid for president. This was nothing more than a power struggle. Also, Taiwan independence advocates openly demand "guarantees of Taiwan's primacy." Lee Teng-hui and the DPP are Taiwan independence fellow travelers.
Taiwan independence today is a phony issue. Its sole purpose is to divide Taiwan to win votes. It cannot possibly succeed. The abolition of nuclear power generation, on the other hand, is a real issue, one relevant to the ROC's economic development and national security. It differs from Taiwan independence, which is all talk and no substance. Halting and abolishing nuclear power generation is a path of no return. If we go down that path, we will find ourselves trapped in a nightmare, wondering "How in the world will we get the electricity we need?" We will be wondering, as Lee Teng-hui has, "What will Taiwan's future be?"
Lee Teng-hui knows perfectly well that Taiwan independence is a phony issue that can temporarily divide society. The abolition of nuclear power generation, on the other hand, is a real issue, for which there are no easy answers. If implemented, we will find ourselves on a downward path. No one knows where that path will end. Also, without nuclear power, Taiwan will be even less capable of achieving any sort of "independence."
Why do Lee Teng-hui, Tsai Ing-wen, and the DPP hold such different positions on nuclear power generation? Because Lee Teng-hui is not running for office. For him, nuclear power generation is not part of his power struggle. For him the critical issue is Taiwan's survival and security. Lee Teng-hui wants Taiwan to survive. Therefore he wants a pragmatic and sound energy policy. By contrast, Tsai Ing-wen and key DPP leaders advocate an immediate halt to construction on the 4NPP and the eventual abolition of nuclear power generation altogether. Why? Because they are concerned primarily with public opinion, which currently opposes nuclear power generation. They see the issue primarily as part of a power struggle. They willfully disregard its impact on national survival and national security. According to their calculations, if they can gain office by riding the anti-nuclear wave, so be it. Will the halting or abolishing of nuclear power generation lead to Taiwan's eventual decline? They cannot be bothered to think about such things for now.
Taiwan independence and the abolition of the 4NPP are intensely populist issues. A simple proclamation that "I love Taiwan" can enable Taiwan independence to flex its political muscles. The implication of course is that anyone who does not support Taiwan independence "does not love Taiwan." The anti-nuke slogan, "I am human, I am anti-nuclear" is equally simplistic -- and equally powerful. But suppose one supports safe nuclear power generation? Does that mean one is "not human," or "sub-human?" The United States, Russia, and Japan all suffered major nuclear disasters. Yet all three continue using nuclear power generation. Were those not "choices made by humans?" Lee Teng-hui differs from Tsai Ing-wen on nuclear power generation. They are different humans making different choices. One cannot say that one or the other is "not human" or "sub-human." Tsai Ing-wen merely wishes to ride the wave of anti-nuclear sentiment into political office, without concern for the eventual cost. Lee Teng-hui conversely is thinking about the consequences for Taiwan once nuclear power generation is halted and abolished.
Current controversy over nuclear power generation has resulted in another political spectacle. The 4NPP has landed Ma Ying-jeou in a dilemma, one reminscent of Lee Teng-hui's interaction with the Taiwan independence movement. When Lee Teng-hui first became president, he kept Taiwan independence advocates at arm's length. Hence the "National Unification Guidelines." Later however, his attitude changed. His "sorrow endured by the Taiwanese" morphed into "The Republic of China no longer exists." He moved further and further toward Taiwan independence. Lee Teng-hui was clearly caught in the traditional dilemma faced by the Kuomintang. He did not know how to defend the Republic of China. Nor did he know how to refute the rhetoric of Taiwan independence. As a result, he unconsciously gravitated toward Taiwan independence. He pandered to populism in order to consolidate political power. In the end, Lee Teng-hui fell into the Taiwan independence abyss. This plight of the Kuomintang was reflected in the DPP's "Referendum on UN membership." The KMT supported the "Referendum on UN membership" because the KMT could not justify the existence of the Republic of China or refute the rhetoric supporting Taiwan independence.
Today the Ma administration finds itself in a similar situation regarding nuclear power generation. It does not know how to justify the continued use of nuclear power generation, or how to refute those who demand the abolition of nuclear power generation. As a result, it caved in to Tsai Ing-wen's call for a "nuclear-free homeland," the same way it caved into demands to "join the UN," with calls to "return to the UN." It offered to hold a public referendum on the 4NPP. It revealed its inability to make the case for nuclear power generation. As a result, the referendum is now seen as a sign that the Ma administration is about to throw in the towel.
To this day, the Kuomintang has lacked the ability to defend the Republic of China or refute Taiwan independence. Its sole response to the February 28 incident is to apologize, rather than demand an airing of the facts. Taiwan independence today is on the wane, primarily because the public is sick and tired of the damage inflicted upon them by Taiwan independence political wrangling. For over a decade, Taiwan independence was holy writ. But people are gradually waking from the nightmare.
Nuclear power generation is different. Suppose that a few years from now, nuclear power generation is actually abolished, and Taiwan's fate is up in the air? The public may eventually wake up, but the nightmare will not end. Taiwan will continue hurtling downhill towards disaster. The DPP's promotion of Taiwan independence did not destroy Taiwan. But its abolition of nuclear power generation could.
Taiwan independence differs from the crusade to abolish the 4NPP. Taiwan independence advocates do not fear a referendum on the 4NPP. Taiwan independence may divide Taiwan. But so far it has yet to be fatal. Halting construction of the 4NPP, and immediately abolishing nuclear power generation may well be. A public referendum is imminent. Even Lee Teng-hui is wondering, "What will Taiwan's future be?"
2013.04.19 03:14 am