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China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

The Taiwan Situation: Thoughts on the Alternatives

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The debate over the legitimacy of the anti-Chen Shui-bian protest is widespread. In retrospect, I see my initial post was rather gung-ho. It was, in the least, extemely optimisitic, and at the most, extremely idealistic. Over the last few days, I have had to confront the question of whether or not I believe in this movement.

Michael Turton is an incredible blogger (see his link on my page). His recent posts draw on national news reports and on a very palpable, very present perception that this “seige” on Chen is diluted through poltical partisanship. In his effort to discredit the anti-Chen camp, he goes as far as alleging involvement of criminal rings and gangsters in the organization and participation of anti-Chen events. His rabbid repudiation of the anti-Chen movement stems on these arguments:

1. This protest is a partisan hack-job, personally aimed at Chen with no larger implications and no widespread social support.

2. The anti-Chen movement will be unsuccessful.

3. Violence is the ultimate aim of the anti-Chen demonstators; since only through violence will they succeed.

4. Anyone who is anti-Chen is pro-China.

5, 6, 7… he lists other interesting and seemingly implausible justifications, such as Shih Meng-teh is dying of liver cancer and this is his last big hurrah at political notoriety.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think Turton has a lot of valuable insight. He has been on this island much longer than myself. However, I find the entire logic of his argument to be both counter-productive and remissive of the point of this protest (in my eyes).

Foremost, let me state that I too shared a concern for the longevity and potential outcome of this protest. Taiwan, for as long as I have been here, seems stable enough to let the judiciary process trudge along against Chen. Rocking the boat seemed foolish. I am a realist; one who usually weighs outcomes by simple logic; one often swayed by the Hobbesian state of nature; one who believes the status-quo is the inevitable outcome of geopolitical interests. I thought, Ma Ying-Jeou and his ilk are no better. The KMT of before was no better, no less corrupt than the DPP is now. The status-quo is very unlikely to change. Chen is very unlikely to step down. All of this is bad for Taiwan’s “face” toward China.

I believe Turton would feel the same way in many respects. Where my viewpoint changed, I cannot really say. I can say that my experiences in daily life have led me to a very different place then my intitial impulses. Each day, and continually, the Taiwanese people in my life or those whom I interact with tell me openly that they dislike Chen Shui-bian. They tell me that they would like to see him step down, to “get off the stage”. It should be stated that these are not some young group of radicals, these are every day people… cabbies, food vendors, 7-11 employees, school staff, businessmen and women, families, students, etc. Turton and the anti-anti-Chen crowd are misguided and wrong to believe that this protest is standing upon the dancing legs of political puppets.

I happened to drive past Ketagalan Blvd. again today. The crowd is depleated, the numbers very few in comparison to Sept. 9. This is to be expected. Protests, by their very nature, are formidable in number only in the fire of their genesis. They wane. They weaken. But there are still citizens “sitting-in” Ketagalan Blvd. “It” is still in the streets, still in the news, still in the water-cooler converstaions. It is still in the psyche of this nation.

I would reiterate what I said in my intial posting on this movement: What inspires me here, what I see that I believe in, is that through all of the mist and misguidance of the commentary, there is a core of people who are simply fed-up with the status-quo being that of corruption within their democratic government.

Now, Turton would say that Chen has not been proven guilty. Yet, he argues that Ma and all of the anti-Chen people are also corrupt, almost entirely and equally as unproven by the court of law. In Eastern society the ramifications of one’s family’s actions are an onus on the individual. Unlike Western cultures, here it is even easier to be guiltier by association. Not that I am dropping the hammer on Chen. I care little for his actual guilt. The fact of the matter is that he has let his presidency be riddled and ridiculed by a slew of heavy allegations. His job is marred by mediocre management of those in his personal and in his political life. With hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets of your capital, if you so brazenly believe in the democratic rights and democratic future of this country then you should put yourself at the whim of your constituency.

Today, the People’s First Party and Ma’s KMT continued the advance of the anti-Chen front by submitting a motion for a public referendum for the recall of the president. The Taipei Times quoted PFP spokesman Lee Hung-Chun saying, “Approving the recall motion does not mean you oppose the president. It means letting the people make the decision.” Ma himself stated that the DPP shall remain in power until 2008 if Chen were recalled. Will it succeed? Well, I guess it hinges on what one calls a “success.”

I say in response to Turton and his kind, that they are misrepresenting this protest to the public and to themselves. For within this movement there is great hope for Taiwan’s future. It is people in action, people choosing to partake in the destiny of their own creation. This movement is by its very existence proof of a democratic pulse pumping in the heart of this island.


Written by Miles

September 26, 2006 at 5:54 pm

One Response

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  1. The mounting allegations of corruption against ROC President Chen have captured a lot of press coverage. However, as we know, the majority of high-ranking members of the ROC administration (including President Chen) are unable to visit the USA in any “official capacity.” Why? The answer is simple: under international law, the ROC on Taiwan is not a legitimate government.

    The above statement is not made because I agree to the PRC view of the “Taiwan question,” in fact quite the opposite. I support the One China Policy to the extent that I recognize that the PRC is the sole legitimate government of China. That is it. That is all that the One China Policy says. Does the One China Policy say that Taiwan is a part of China? To my knowledge there are no official US government documents that support such an “interpretation,” (indeed many US-based think tanks have also pointed this out over and over again.)

    Do I support “One China, One Taiwan”? …. Well, not exactly, because under international law the PRC and Taiwan are not equivalent entities. Why is this? Please read on.

    In a November interview in the Financial Times, President Chen complained that other countries don’t recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty. However, twenty years ago when Chen was a member of the opposition party and rallying the public against the ROC government, he often commented that the “ROC on Taiwan is not a sovereign nation.” The reason for such a stance is simple, it involves international treaty law.

    For those who are unfamiliar with the history, in 1912 when the ROC was founded, Taiwan was part of Japan. In 1945, the ROC military under Chiang Kai-shek was sent to Taiwan to accept the surrender of Japanese troops. Hence, the date of Oct. 25, 1945, merely marks the beginning of the military occupation of Taiwan. Then in the post-war peace treaty, Japan renounced all right, claim, and title to Taiwan, but no “receiving country” was specified. HENCE, under international law, the ROC on Taiwan cannot be held to be a sovereign nation, since it does not hold the TITLE to the areas of Formosa and the Pescadores.

    A recent lawsuit in Washington D.C. spells out these facts in detail, and calls on the US government to recognize the Taiwanese people’s fundamental rights under US laws, including the US Constitution. The rationale for saying that based on the post-war peace treaty Taiwan is actually “an overseas territory under the jurisdiction of the USA” is explained in this Summary —

    In conclusion, it must be pointed out that at the most basic level, the arguments about “corruption” in the highest offices of the Republic of China government, and their resolution one way or the other, will not solve the current political dilemma (perhaps “deadlock” is a better word) in Taiwan. What is needed is for the Taiwanese people to wake up to the reality of their international legal situation.

    Roger C. S. Lin

    November 22, 2006 at 3:39 am

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