It may have been a bit of an exaggeration last week when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that ever since the DPP first came to power in 2000, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), suddenly in opposition, at every turn "set the public against the [DPP] government."
But he wasn't that far off the mark.
It is undeniable that on numerous issues of paramount importance to the welfare of this country, from national defense appropriation budgets to a Central Election Commission ruling on the voting system to be used in next year's elections, the KMT has acted -- in and out of the legislature -- in ways that undermined the authority of the democratically elected central government and thereby flouted the laws that hold this nation together.
Strangely, despite the roguish nature of the KMT, the party and its leadership have met with scarce criticism from the public and, even more perturbing, from the DPP government itself. As a consequence, the less the KMT has been called to account for its conduct unbecoming a democracy, the more daring its challenges to the law and the system have become.
This bodes terribly ill if the KMT were to win the presidential election. As an opposition party for the past seven years, the KMT has had to keep up the pretense of being part of a democratic system, lest it risk being sidelined or, worse, its actions spark civil unrest.
So the KMT has adopted the language of democracy and, especially around election time, has danced the dance.
But given its historical baggage, its affiliations with the far-from-democratic Beijing and its track record as the opposition, it is clear that if it were to regain power, the veneer of acceding to democratic principles would be replaced by what still lies at the core of the party: authoritarianism.
If, while in opposition, a party cannot respect democratic principles and due process, how can we expect that, once in power, its regard for the constellation of views that constitute a democracy will suddenly reactivate? Let's not kid ourselves: If the KMT were to come to power and were to continue applying its vandal's mindset to governance, the nation's politics would be pushed back many years -- possibly to a time when being a member of the opposition was a dangerous thing.
Democracy is a frail creature. It is not something that reaches an endpoint and then congeals into a fixed state. Rather, it is fluid, a gradient on the spectrum of political systems. Over time, depending on circumstances and who is in power, nations slide back and forth along that spectrum.
It is so fragile that in certain situations -- following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, for instance -- even "mature" democracies like the US, Britain, Canada and Australia undermine their own great democratic accomplishments. Some, like the last two, do not even need to have been attacked to drastically alter their systems, trump their checks and balances, clamp down on their media and adopt means that have more in common with Orwellian nightmares than democracies worthy of the name.
Next year's vote will be more than just about which party comes to power. It will be about whether Taiwan continues along the road of democracy or takes a sudden turn and careens dangerously toward authoritarianism.
Unless Hollywood movies like Greenland, Deep Impact, and Armageddon have predictive powers and a rogue space rock is heading our way, stopping Chinese Communist Party expansionism is likely to prove the single most challenging and dangerous problem of our lifetimes. How can the United States, Taiwan, and other liberal democracies prepare for and prevent attacks from China? How can Washington bolster Taipei’s confidence when it doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a real country and, so far, lacks the political will to make major adjustments to its ossified China policy and Taiwan policy? How can Taiwan make itself heard on the world stage when
Hypersonic weapons are defined as armaments capable of traveling at speeds faster than Mach 5 and can be broadly classified into two types: hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) and hypersonic cruise missiles. The former are launched into the upper atmosphere by ballistic missiles. The vehicle is then separated from the booster to maneuver, or glide, toward its target. The latter can be launched from a jet plane or rocket to reach supersonic speed before igniting a scramjet engine to achieve hypersonic speeds. As the US engages in a great-power competition with China and Russia, all three countries are racing to field hypersonic
The number of people emigrating from Hong Kong has been rapidly increasing, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data show, with the territory’s population dropping by 110,000 people from 2019 to this year. China’s imposition of a National Security Law has clearly triggered a massive population outflow. However, not only people but also foreign businesses are leaving Hong Kong. For example, Vanguard Group, the world’s second-largest asset management company, VF Corp and Sony Interactive Entertainment have moved their top regional management from Hong Kong to Singapore. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company, has also relocated staff
Oppression is painful, and not being able to express it increases the pain 10-fold. This level of pain is something that Uighurs, Tibetans and Mongolians understand all too well. A question often posed to Uighurs in the international arena is: “You say you are facing genocide, but why don’t we see corpses, like in Rwanda and in Bosnia?” If you were a Uighur, what would you say? What if you replied: “The source of the problem is your lack of vision. It’s an indication of your weakness and China’s strength, and it is not a matter of our sincerity.” Such a harsh response would