With the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), rapid economic integration between China and Taiwan and the increased interaction between people from both sides, it seems that Taiwan’s future is destined to be influenced by China to an increasing extent.
The considerable differences between the respective political systems in the two countries, Beijing’s intransigent refusal to accept the way of life the Taiwanese have chosen, the lack of mutual trust and the fact that we have long lived under the threat of war, have made it difficult to be sure of our own national security or prospects for sustained development.
The pro-Taiwan faction in this country advocates that the whole nation should come together to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty, independence, constitutional democracy, freedoms and human rights. In addition, we further want to present these things as an example to China, to encourage it to move toward a more civilized and modern society, and in this way promote peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait.
It is also important that we cultivate a wider awareness that Taiwan’s sovereignty, independence and democratic freedoms are based on respecting the right of individuals to make their own democratic choices. This will help us stem the expansionist ambitions of the PRC and promote civilized values for people throughout the world; it will also give strength to elements within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) keen to drag their party into the modern world.
Ultimately, this offers the last hope for the democratization of China and represents the historic duty of all people who crave for a free China.
In our dialogue with China, the pro-Taiwan faction must be compassionate and recognize that many people involved in such discussions may not have a good understanding of the situation in Taiwan. We need to bring empathy and patience to discussions, but also courage, so that we can stand up and protect the fundamental values that led to the establishment of a democratic Taiwan.
We desperately need to see constructive dialogue replace confrontational dogma across the Strait.
In Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is the major pro-Taiwan, pro--localization force, but it is currently in opposition. If the DPP wants to take the reins of power a second time it must represent the interests of the Taiwanese and make the necessary preparations. It also needs to find a way to cooperate with the progressive forces within China, embracing them as strategic partners and allies of Taiwanese constitutional democracy.
The DPP’s China policy needs a completely new framework, one that places people at its center and fosters exchange and awareness between the people on either side of the Strait, on the basic precondition of peaceful advancement and respect for each other’s autonomy.
It also needs to encourage the Chinese communists to adopt the rule of law, effect political reform and promote Chinese people’s support for Taiwan. Respect and sincerity are the keys to persuading others.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) latest proposal, to establish a think tank charged with researching the best way to hold a cross-strait dialogue, is a first step in her party’s new approach to China and something that former DPP chairman Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) regrettably failed to achieve during his tenure. We remain optimistic and hopeful that this will now happen.
Tseng Chien-yuan is a convener in the law and politics department of the Northern Taiwan Society.
TRANSLATED BY PAUL COOPER
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