Sat, Oct 15, 2005 - Page 8 News List

New viewpoint needed, not reform

By Lai I-chung 賴怡忠

Recently, the "new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) movement" and other reform campaigns have focused largely on superficial issues, such as whether the party is corrupt, or whether it listens to the public's voices. It has insisted that reform is a party issue and is nobody else's business. But actually, Taiwan's biggest challenges are in its current circumstances and domestic social change.

This situation is also related to whether the understanding of the situation by academic and social groups, which are intimately connected with the DPP, is able to produce an effective response.

For example, the paradigm for interpreting Taiwan's democratic development has usually been a highly polarized one of activists versus the government. This has failed to take into account the influence of international events. This has given rise to the contradiction that exists in the so-called "one China" principle. Thus, the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime attempted to use the "one China" myth to justify its rule and resist democratic reforms such as re-election of the legislature. As a result, Taiwan's discourse on democracy has been framed in terms of a face off with the "one China" principle.

International China experts such as Charles Freeman Jr, believe that the US' "one China" policy has eased China's anxieties and helped to stabilize the Sino-US relationship, giving Taiwan space for democratic reform. So the world's security mainstream actually believes that the "one China" concept that has stabilized the Taiwan Strait is a key element to this reform. This is completely inconsistent with mainstream opinion in Taiwan.

The above discourses can explain two phenomena:

First, Taiwan's democratic development was not linked to the overall international environment at that time. Domestically, the focus was on social groups' opposition to the "one China" policy of the party-state system, at the same time as international observers regarded the "one China" policy as contributing to the stabilizing of the cross-strait environment.

Second, Taiwan's democratic discourse lacked an international perspective, making it unable to offer a response to the international view.

Taiwan needs a more complete understanding of its democratic development in light of its democratization in the 1990s and the end of the Cold War.

Take its democratization as an example. Now that the KMT has been forced to reform itself, and has become a element of the democratization process, the former model of a confrontation of opposites is no longer useful. It is now necessary to understand both the positive and negative contributions that the DPP, KMT and other parties have made.

A more comprehensive analysis is now necessary, and in practical terms, will also be useful for dealing with ethnic issues, for if an ethnic group feels that it is being made the target of reform, or that it is being sacrificed to political correctness, then the ethnic problem can never be resolved.

Of the challenges that Taiwan now faces in the international community, the most notable is the "rise" of China and the consequent reshuffle of the strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, Taiwan must also face various global issues, as well as struggle over issues such as the level of its competitiveness, democratic governance and social justice.

This story has been viewed 3801 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top