Mon, Dec 06, 2004 - Page 8 News List

External recognition is real issue for country

By Sun Ta-chuan孫大川

After the 2000 presidential election, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was the chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) at that time, was made a scapegoat for the party's election defeat, and his line of "Taiwan consciousness" has quickly weakened inside the party. With the rise of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), the KMT's pro-localization supporters have lost their ability to set the agenda both inside and outside the party.

After the KMT and PFP became allies, for both this year's presidential election and the upcoming legislative elections, the pan-blue camp has attempted to focus on issues related to the public's livelihood or the government's achievements while campaigning. However, the direction of Taiwan's political situation mostly focuses on our national status. The issues of whether to amend the Constitution or create a new one, the question of the national emblem and title, and criticism of the KMT's outdated party-state ideology have dominated the campaign. This has gradually become the public consensus.

The pan-blue camp proposes maintaining the status quo, saying that the Republic of China (ROC) is an independent sovereign state, so it is unnecessary to rectify the nation's name. This will both maintain the government's legitimacy and avoid irritating China or triggering a war in the Taiwan Strait.

These statements are not groundless. They are based on realistic considerations and profound historical and cultural motivations. The problem is this: Ever since the early 1990s, a pattern has emerged in the development of Taiwan's rule of law. Taiwan has repeatedly proven through upholding the processes of Western democracy that the nation is indeed an independent sovereign state. Through successive democratic elections, Lee and Chen's administrations have firmly demonstrated our existence.

In my opinion, the mainstream opinion in Taiwan is neither to maintain the status quo nor boost the economy, as the pan-blue camp claims. It is impossible for Taiwan to accept the status quo of not being recognized as a nation. In particular, whether you like them or not, and whether you agree or not, Taiwan's constitutional reforms, especially those in the 1990s, were accomplished through democratic procedures.

Of course, this does not mean that the pan-green camp's accusation that the pan-blue camp is using China's military threat as a campaign trick to scare the Taiwanese people is true. The myth of Chinese nationalism has not yet been broken, and it serves as an emotional basis for a unification by force. This can't be resolved simply by telling the public not to be afraid. Those in power, if they are responsible enough, should be extremely cautious about any possible tragedy caused by irrational factors.

As voters, the only value that we must safeguard is respect for decisions made through democratic procedures. After Taiwan's democratization process over the past half a century, we should certainly clear away accumulated anti-democratic sediment so as to improve the quality of democracy.

We are now in the last phase of our transformation. No matter how the pan-blue and pan-green camps attack each other, both sides believe in democracy and Taiwan's status as an independent sovereign state. Obviously, our problem is external recognition, not internal awareness. How to avoid internal confrontation is the biggest challenge to our democracy at present. Since politicians are so unreliable, we can only hope that voters will act in a mature fashion.

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