Fri, Feb 13, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Taking up the peace challenge

By Shih Chih-yu 石之瑜

LATELY, THE DEMOCRATIC Progressive Party (DPP) has been searching for a new socio-political direction. I would like to propose making “peace” one of its core values.

Peace has always been a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) slogan used to counter Taiwanese independence and, after regaining power, to promote nation-building.

However, the peace that the KMT touts only pertains to the absence of war across the Taiwan Strait — it couldn’t care less if other nations blow each other up. The result is that in Taiwan, peace has nothing to do with real peace and neither the government nor the media care about reporting on international or even regional conflicts.

This shows that peace is neither a value or a philosophy. At most, it merely refers to the pleasantries senior members of the KMT exchange with Chinese officials during their dealings. Put simply, the KMT thinks that peace means “not clashing with China” and hiding if it arouses Beijing’s ire.

This is a hypocritical form of peace — “as long as you don’t fight me, I don’t care what you do.” This idea of peace is a false one. The KMT’s policy of no unification, no independence and no use of force is just an attempt to maintain a peaceful show of Taiwanese living in a secure environment. However, since the KMT has never been concerned with real peace, it is having trouble establishing any credibility when it comes to peace.

Of course other observers believe the KMT has another agenda and that it wouldn’t mind going to war if it were sure of victory. Peace, in that case, only becomes an opportunity for the government to prepare for war, purchasing weapons and staging military exercises.

Such a concept of peace fails to bring momentum; rather, it brings restriction. For the KMT, peace means that Taiwan cannot be unified and cannot gain independence. This sort of peace is not something that people crave, but rather a smothering form of pressure. This is because any action can be interpreted as a move toward independence or unification. It leads to an abundance of conspiracy theories, prompting the KMT to repeatedly say that it doesn’t favor unification or independence, thus blocking both and turning “peace” into a self-negating set of commands.

China accepts the KMT’s peace policies not because it favors peace, but because it does not have enough clout yet and must rely on these “peace initiatives” to win more time and space to maneuver and take Taiwan.

The KMT also sees the situation in the same way and, as an opportunistic administrative machine, there is nothing it cannot do. However, to the Taiwanese public whose opinion differs, the KMT is cold and uninteresting and makes people lose interest and the passion for life.

Many countries have been established on the basis of peace. Peace became part of Sweden’s founding spirit when it decided to take an active part in resolving international conflicts. Another example is Japanese Buddhist peace organization Soka Gakkai International, which merges religion with humanitarian practices to turn peace into a form of social practice.

Yet other examples are Mahatma Gandhi’s use of non-cooperation, non-violence and peaceful resistance against the British in India and Mozi (墨子), a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Mohism, who advocated deterring tyranny by building enough strength to drive the enemy back and then simply holding one’s ground. While these methods vary, they show us how peace can become a life-defining philosophy and belief.

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