Mon, Feb 09, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Retaining Taiwan’s winning formula

By Chang Shyue-yih 張學逸

Taiwan is a country, and it thirsts to become a normal and advanced democracy, regardless of what its national title may be. Such a national consciousness is the common aspiration of most people in Taiwan.

Faced with the Chinese Communist Party’s “one China” united front strategy, which is echoed by pro-unification forces within Taiwan, people may differ on how to achieve this aspiration, even to the extent of serious disputes and confrontation. Some go so far as demanding that others unite around their particular opinion and denigrating those who decline to do so.

Such an attitude not only oppresses others right to free expression, but also weakens the movement, raising the specter of Taiwan’s final defeat.

What is needed is a pragmatic and feasible fundamental principle that is acceptable to all.

As Taiwanese democracy pioneer Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水) said, “Compatriots must unite, for unity is strength.”

Strengthening and expanding Taiwan’s national consciousness is the most basic way to prevent annexation by China. However, efforts to consolidate national consciousness can be legitimate and convincing only when they are associated with people or things that uphold justice and ethics.

So our fundamental principle is that “the words and deeds of any person or party should be tolerated, respected and supported as long as they uphold Taiwanese national consciousness and comply with justice and ethics. That is the way to attract the public to identify with Taiwan as a country.”

Within this scope, nobody should publicly attack or judge others based on their personal preferences, lest they create divisions that could be used by the pro-unification camp. Anyone who insists on doing so may be suspected of fomenting personal or factional struggles. Which way is best can be seen from the extent to which it extends the public’s identification with Taiwan as a country.

We should condemn any word and restrain any deed that runs against either Taiwan’s national consciousness or justice and ethics. After all, Taiwanese national identity is a natural and healthy concept, so there is no need to shy away from it.

Without Taiwanese national identity, justice and ethics are empty words, because if we do not safeguard Taiwan’s status the county will come under the sway of the communists. Such an outcome would endanger our freedom, democracy and human rights, as Taiwan would be amalgamated into China’s society — one in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority live in poverty. What could be more unjust and unethical than that?

If, on the other hand, people or things associated with Taiwanese national consciousness are seen to violate justice and ethics, they may easily be used to defame the whole idea and make it unpopular.

As US President Barack Obama said in his inaugural speech: “Our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

Taiwan’s cause is a just one, and ethical conduct is a forceful example. So if we can stick to the basic principles of Taiwanese national consciousness, justice and ethics, while treating others with due tolerance, humility and restraint, we can double and redouble our strength. As long as we work together, Taiwan will surely win out in the end.

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