Wed, Nov 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

KMT betrays Taiwan's democracy

By Jerome Keating

What price would one put on democracy? What would one trade democracy for? What would it take to sell out someone else's right to self-determination?

A pair of pandas? Better trade relations? A chance to make more money? Or even the alleged glory of being the mythical white-horse prince who could stake a claim that he brought Taiwan and China together? Democracy is the real issue in the Taiwan-China debate and the questions on democracy are the real questions? The rest is all smokescreen and obfuscation.

In a global age where national boundaries begin to blur and the world begins heading toward corporate identification and influence, the rights of the individual granted by democracy and the rule of law remain and cry out for recognition. These are the same rights the People's Republic of China (PRC) avoids discussing.

In the same vein, as Lien Chan (連戰), James Soong (宋楚瑜) and so many other pan-blue leaders fawningly run to Beijing, they appear embarrassed to even bring up the `D' word. If it is brought up, it is done in almost apologetic terms.

The distinct role that democracy must play in negotiations concerning Taiwan and China's future is crucial. Behind democracy are the paradigms and priorities that people hold for themselves and these two countries. On one side is Taiwan's experience of a long, hard struggle over a one-party state that has still not come clean on its past murders and theft. On the other side is another one-party clique steeped in suppression that justifies its control with the claim to be defender of the myth of one, indivisible China.

As a result, the Taiwan-China debate continues to be smoked over by words and phrases like "independence, inalienable, inseparable, internal problem" and even "a shared common culture."

Independence. In this debate, China has made no bones about its demand to forbid this word in discussions of the future. There can be no talk of Taiwan independence. Such a demand by the PRC is tantamount to saying both sides must agree to come to the PRC's conclusion before they begin to debate.

Still, statements of non-negotiables are a part of bargaining. Taiwan's pan-green leadership has stated its own non-negotiable by saying that both sides must come to the table as equals and have the freedom of choice of equals.

What is most surprising, however, is the complete lack of non-negotiables from the pan-blue leadership. In the old days of Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) at least had fire in its belly when dealing with the PRC. At that time they were bold enough to state their own three no's, "no contacts, no negotiations, no compromise."

Now in sharp contrast, KMT leaders trip and fall over each other as they run to bow and scrape to accommodate the PRC. Such kow-towing makes any rational person ask: Where has the fire gone? What has changed?

The answer lies in seeing the KMT's true past paradigms and priorities and how these were affected by democracy. The KMT that was brave enough to issue its three no's was one which gave lip service to democracy. It did this because it operated with the secure power and privilege of a one-party state similar to that of the PRC.

Hidden behind its three no's was its own basic sine qua non that saw unification only in terms of the KMT maintaining power over all. Democracy ruined that for the KMT; it broke their paradigm of privilege and destroyed their sense of entitlement to power.

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