Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Democracy will help both sides

By Paul Lin 林保華

On the eve of the "war of the century" -- Taiwan's presidential election -- I have arrived in Taiwan to monitor the election. Although an observer, I have my own stance and feelings about the matter. They did not take shape by accident, and have undergone decades of transformation.

During my 21 years in China, I witnessed human rights being trampled, and lived a life without dignity. After I moved to Hong Kong in the mid-1970s, although I strongly opposed the Chinese regime, I took it for granted that Taiwan was a part of China. In 1984, I visited Taiwan for the first time. Frequent visits increased my affection for the island.

Taiwan has attracted me not only with its spectacular scenery, delicious snacks and simple customs and people, but also by the fact that I have witnessed its development into a democratic country. But China's oppression of Taiwan's democratic development has made me reconsider the unification issue. My perspective has switched from "pro-unification" to "pro-democracy" -- under which people are their own masters, and their will should be fully respected -- and to the self-awareness of Taiwan, which needs to rectify its own name.

First, China fired ballistic missiles into the Taiwan Strait in 1996 to deter Taiwan's presidential poll. I was in Taiwan at that time, and saw the absurdity of the ticket of former Judicial Yuan president Lin Yang-kang (林洋港) and former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村). Hau's remarks to a rally in Taichung shocked me, because his words sounded just like a "theory of subjugation." Hau was so afraid of Beijing that he was only anti-independence, not anti-communist. Luckily, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did not attack Taiwan when he was the chief of the general staff. Otherwise, the country would have been destroyed a long time ago.

When former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) proposed the "special state-to-state" model of cross-strait relations in 1998, pro-unification politicians echoed Beijing in opposing the idea. This made me hate their fear of the communists and flattery of Beijing even more.

Second, I had originally wished that China and Taiwan could be unified after China's democratization. But the CCP has always insisted on its dictatorship and refused to countenance any political reforms. Taiwan cannot just sit back and wait for China's democratization, because it might be swallowed up by China before its democratization has been completed.

I have my own ideas about the democratization of China: emptying out the centralized government by local autonomy or independence. Taiwan and Hong Kong are the best examples of local democratization. Taiwanese independence is a good thing. The existence of a democratic Taiwan is actually the best encouragement for China's democratic movement. For those who zealously oppose Taiwan's independence -- where ever they are -- they are helping China to kill its democratic movement and its chances of becoming a democra-tic country, no matter how loudly their various democratic slogans are shouted.

Third, I know that Taiwan does not rule out the possibility of rectifying its name and becoming a real independent state. Due to the post-war cultural separation over the past half century, especially in the development of their political cultures, the gap between Taiwan and China is constantly broadening.

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