Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

A peaceful road to an independent state exists

By Chien Hsi-chieh 簡錫土皆

Peaceful independence may sound like a utopian dream, but it is the only way for the nation to achieve de jure independence. But it is a plan that will require much wisdom and a solid strategy.

Recent history offers us many examples of independence achieved in a peaceful way and they are worth considering by supporters of Taiwanese independence.

In 1905, Norway won its independence from Sweden. Initially, the king of Sweden intended to suppress the popular movement for an independent Norway by military force. But when Swedish civil society came forward in large numbers in support of the movement, the king changed his plan and accepted the wishes of the Norwegians. The example of Sweden demonstrates that in and of itself, promoting Taiwan's cause domestically and internationally is insufficient.

We need to increasingly recognize the power that exists within Chinese society and open channels of communication with Chinese intellectuals and non-governmental organizations. Only when Chinese become aware that there exist two separate governments on either side of the Taiwan Strait and after they have learned more about the achievements of Taiwanese democracy will a peaceful resolution to the impasse be possible.

Another example is the struggle of three small Baltic countries -- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia -- to gain independence from the Soviet Union. Facing Soviet tanks, unarmed women formed a human shield and prevented the Russians from advancing.

This example shows that non-violent and collective resistance can be powerful enough to resist bullets and tanks. We should therefore actively develop non-violent national defense and peace movements so that Chinese recourse to force would lose all its legitimacy.

During the Lithuanian referendum on independence, more than 76 percent of Russians who had been relocated to Lithuania as part of the Soviet government's immigration policy and their descendants voted in favor of independence. This shows that when democracy has become a way of life, it can create an identity of such strength as to supersede ethnic boundaries. If Taiwanese could have as much confidence in their own system, democracy could reinforce immigrants' identification with Taiwan.

Taiwanese independence should not be a monolithic entity, nor should it be harnessed by an exclusive, chauvinist society. We need more people like former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) and chairman of the Taiwan Research Association of National Peace Security Albert Lin (林哲夫). Both are benevolent, generous leaders of the independence movement and who have worked hard to unite people from different backgrounds to a common cause. Only via such a strategy can the diverse people in Taiwan identify with the land.

Supporters of Taiwanese independence should never forget that our initial intention was to establish a "Switzerland in Asia." This beautiful land we care for is more than just a piece of property -- it is a place where people can coexist peacefully while they seek to achieve their dreams.

A movement for independence that has lost sight of its original ideals can only become captive to the colonialist logic of power. Let us therefore make national and international peace our goal and may that be our guide in our quest for independence. Let us come up with an even more pluralist, more inclusive democratic culture and abandon dollar diplomacy and the arms race with China.

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