Tue, Feb 27, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Remembering is key to the future

By Li Thian-hok 李天福

Much of Taiwan's media is known for its pro-unification bias due to its KMT roots, a tendency exacerbated by the infiltration of such media by Hong Kong and presumably Chinese capital. Pan-blue politicians and media bared their fangs when they combined forces last fall to encourage the red shirt rebellion -- an attempt to destroy the democratically elected government through extralegal means.

In the face of grave external and internal threats to Taiwan's democracy, the DPP government appears feckless in its dealing with the PRC. Its main concerns are how to implement direct links and open up Taiwan to Chinese tourists and investments, seemingly oblivious to the national security consequences of such policies.

Taiwan's most important ally, the US, meanwhile, is so preoccupied with its problems in the Middle East it is in no position to pay heed to the deteriorating status quo in favor of the PRC.

Philosopher George Santayana has said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." It may thus be useful to compare today's Taiwan with the situation 60 years ago. There are certain similarities.

First, the 228 Incident was caused in part by the friction between a backward country and an advanced society. In 1947, Taiwan enjoyed an 80 percent literacy rate, the antithesis of China. Taiwan's standard of living was second only to Japan in Asia and industrialization and economic infrastructure were much more advanced than China's.

Today similar disparity persists between Taiwan and China.

Despite rapid economic development, China's per capita GDP remains around US$1,200, compared to US$15,000 in Taiwan. China has much more serious problems in environmental degradation, rampant corruption and widespread social instability.

Second, in 1947, the Taiwanese and their leaders failed to understand the predatory nature of the KMT. This phenomenon persists today although the main adversary is now the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Suffering grievously under the corruption and plundering of the Chen Yi administration in 1947, many Taiwanese hoped that once the situation was made known to the central government in Nanjing, it would come to the rescue. Others placed their hope on the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution scheduled to be implemented in July 1948, naively expecting Taiwan to be given local autonomy.

In reality, the KMT treated Taiwan as war booty to be squeezed for maximum profit, and Taiwanese were regarded as colonial subjects contaminated by the Japanese. The human-rights guarantees of the Constitution were nothing but empty promises. The blind faith in China resulted in the destruction of a large segment of Taiwan's leadership class.

Today, many Taiwanese are committing the same mistake. Due to the biased reporting of the pro-China media and Sinocentric education, many Taiwanese have an unreasonably benign view of the PRC's repressive rule.

They pay little attention to the gross violations of human rights by the CCP and its intent to annex Taiwan by nonpeaceful means. Taiwanese businesspeople continue to pour capital, technology and manpower into China, forgetting that the PRC is the nemesis of Taiwan's freedom.

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