In a Feb. 8 article in the Yale Daily News titled "Taiwan's desinicization policy pulls at seams of One China," Xiaochen Su criticized the desinicizing policy of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration as unjustified and an obstacle to peace and cooperation for prosperity across the Taiwan Strait.
The author also cited the recent revision of the primary and secondary school textbooks as additional evidence of desinicization, since the new textbooks emphasized Taiwanese over Chinese history.
Finally, the author argued that the lack of communication across the strait is primarily the responsibility of the Taiwanese government, whose policies is preventing many Taiwanese from visiting China.
Fifty-two responses to the article were posted in the following week. The first one criticized the author as biased. Since China has the political upper hand, the writer argued, it is Beijing that should initiate communication and it should do so without imposing preconditions. The great majority of comments also highlighted the flawed reasoning behind the article, which was interpreted as reflecting the People's Republic of China orthodoxy, if not its propaganda. Many commentators were sympathetic to the DPP and the plights of Taiwanese.
In his comment, Taiwan-based Michael Turton wrote that no ethnic Han emperor had ever ruled Taiwan. Only the Qing Dynasty, a Manchu empire of non-Chinese origin, had ever occupied Taiwan and only did so for a short period of time before ceding it to Japan with some relief.
China's claim that Taiwan is "sacred national territory," therefore, is nothing but a post-World War II invention. When dictator Chiang Kai-shek (
Turton also observes that the emergence of a local Taiwan identity predated the DPP. Its seeds, rather, were sown under the Japanese occupation.
The succeeding Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime after World War II reinforced colonialism by resorting to its own oppressive practices. Turton correctly points out that the DPP's "desinicization" policies are aimed strictly at KMT policies that attempted to suppress the local identity by introducing a fictional and idealized version of Chinese culture in Taiwan.
Another writer, named Chris, drew our attention to the presence of deep cultural and social differences between Taiwanese and Chinese populations in spite of ethnic similarities. He said that should China maintain its oppressive and belligerent policies in dealing with Taiwan, the Chinese-Taiwanese identity gap would only widen.
Canadian Politico, meanwhile, suggested that the whole issue was about communism versus freedom and liberty, authoritarianism versus democratic representation and judicial interference versus the rule of law.
Ben wrote that Taiwanese democracy was the best model China could emulate because of the close ethnic relationship that exists between the two nations and that democratic transformation of China would promote peace in Asia and in the entire world. To advance democracy, Taiwan must "Westernize" and desinicize, as did Japan and South Korea. It is interesting to note that the mention of Japan in the comment engendered a wild emotional response from pro-Beijing respondents.
The debate concluded with Eddie G from Sweden, who suggested that supporters of China visit Taiwan and experience Taiwanese culture for themselves. The readers were also reminded that in the court of civilized international opinion, the destiny of Taiwan should be decided by the people who truly love and identify themselves with Taiwan. The reason an undemocratic regime continues to exist in China, the writer argued, was the result of the ignorance Chinese have about the dismal human rights record in their country.
Although the desinicization program received the support of the majority of commentators in the publication, it has been maliciously misrepresented by KMT-controlled media in Taiwan. Thus, the public has been misled into believing that Taiwanese are discriminating against the minority Chinese and that desinicization would intensify discrimination.
Facing a reversal of democratization, Taiwanese must wake up at this critical juncture in their history and use their votes to reject the undemocratic KMT on March 22, lest many find themselves joining the ranks of innumerable exiled Tibetans and Chinese dissidents.
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
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