Thu, Dec 02, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Mainlanders, cast off your shackles

By Paul Lin 林保華

On Oct. 12, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), speaking to legislative candidates of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), said they should both sympathize and empathize with Mainlanders in Taiwan. He said people should help them throw off their constraints and obtain greater benefits. In this way, they would then be more favorable to both Taiwan and the TSU. Lee's greater goal is to have a population with at least 75 percent having a "Taiwan consciousness."

Lee's concern for second-generation Mainlanders in Taiwan is founded upon his desire to promote unity -- in effect mitigating the efforts of other politicians trying to fan the flames of ethnic division. The TSU can be considered a "deep green" in its political orientation; their local awareness is stronger than that of even the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This is not, however, to say that they are being ethnically divisive. When we say "deep green" here we are referring to their deep conviction that China and Taiwan are separate entities. They are not trying to differentiate between ethnic identities within Taiwan itself.

The TSU are further to the green side of the spectrum than the DPP simply because the latter is currently in government and has to balance considerations deriving from cross-strait relations and relations between Taiwan and the US, as well as other domestic and international issues.

Unlike the TSU, the DPP is not free to look on these matters from a purely idealistic standpoint.

Certain politicians and public figures misrepresent the TSU's and Lee's ideas, but this is not necessarily because they are Mainlanders. It is because they see the "Taiwan issue" from China's perspective. In other words, the problem does not derive from ethnic relations within Taiwan, but from the relations between China and Taiwan.

Lee's concern for second-generation Mainlanders is indeed well founded. When Lee mentioned that Mainlanders are in need of throwing off their constraints to achieve more for themselves, I believe he is referring to the people who followed the late president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to Taiwan after China's civil war, and -- with the exception of a number of high-ranking individuals -- underwent many hardships.

They worked hard for Taiwan, making a considerable contribution to its development, and so it is not only the second generation that needs to be considered, it is also the first generation, who still have a profound love for Taiwan.

I would particularly like to emphasize the question of helping them throw off their constraints. The constraints referred to here are for the most part psychological in nature. Certain politicians have accused Mainlanders and their children of "original sin," which naturally puts lots of pressure on them. They also use them as cannon fodder in their scramble for political advantage. This also puts a lot of pressure on them.

As a result we have seen that, in elections, many Taiwanese actually vote for pro-China politicians who have little or no local awareness, whereas some first and second generation Mainlanders actually cast their votes for pro-Taiwan candidates.

In many cases these people are looked upon as "heretics" -- Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟) being a perfect example. I imagine that many second-generation Mainlanders who support the pan-green camp get little support from their families. It must be especially hard for them, and as a result they are all the more deserving of our concern.

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