Tue, Mar 09, 2004 - Page 8 News List

All China understands is power

By Jeff Hockett

One party has diligently invested in, researched and deeply thought about the best way to influence the minds and votes of the Taiwanese people: the Chinese Communist Party.

Many Taiwanese people will vote for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) simply because they are upset about how bad things are now and they blame President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Some uncurious and politically uninterested KMT voters are unable to offer positive reasons that they believe the KMT is more capable of dealing with the issues they complain about. They even find it difficult to identify what Chen did or didn't do to cause the malaise (that is, unemployment) they believe this country is suffering from. In fact, they may not know a single relative or friend who is genuinely having a hard time finding a job, but they believe unemployment is more serious and widespread than it is because they have heard it from some media sources and take it as fact.

But not all votes for the KMT are devoid of any attempt at logical thinking.

One of the most reasonable rationales I've heard for voting for the KMT is that it will create stability with China, which is claimed to have been shattered by Chen. But frankly, I don't see how any legitimately democratic nation's desire to exercise its freedom of expression and state its independence could complicate relations with any other legitimate country. If there is a crisis or danger of instability, it clearly comes from China and its threats.

But KMT voters prefer to blame the object of China's illegitimate threats (that is, movement toward independence) rather than putting the blame where it rightfully belongs: China's illegitimate threats.

It is amazing how these threats have worked in the way China cleverly intended for them to work, and how Taiwanese people seem unaware of or unbothered by this tampering with their voting freedoms (the ultimate freedom of expression) by China . Many voters seem resolved to vote for a certain party, not according to reason or the logic of any argument set forth by any candidate, but rather because of an unhealthy fear of China.

Fear is an effective weapon commonly used in dictatorships and communist countries to curb the free, genuine expression of their people. It outrages me that China can have the power to use threats (which are used to control the "opinion" of its own people) in this democratic country so as to influence the voting behavior of many Taiwanese people. This should not be so.

If there were no threat of military action, most Taiwanese people would have no reason to oppose statements about the country's de facto independence. But their freedom to vote for what they would logically desire has been seriously impaired. They really don't have the freedom to vote if they fear the possibility of China's authorities bringing them back into line for voting the "wrong" way.

That isn't freedom.

But for many of these voters, China, with its crude intimidation and fear tactics, has been allowed to take away their freedom to express this nation's self-identity.

Many people talk about China as if it were superior to Taiwan and unstoppable. They talk of a China that is solely responsible for Taiwan's future job market and economic success. Therefore, the thinking goes, stability must at all costs be maintained, even if it means forfeiting national pride and sovereignty, if Taiwan's economy is to be maintained or built. Aren't Taiwanese people sufficiently innovative and haven't they shown themselves to be economically successful in the past without China's help?

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