Election fever is slowly descending upon Taiwan, promising excitement as contrasts and divisions become more salient between and within parties. The birth of a new political party over the weekend, whose main objective is the creation of a new country, will add to that febrility.
Although the arrival of a new party is a welcome development in a pluralistic democracy like Taiwan, it is important that we closely scrutinize its ideology to ensure that it does not deviate too much from the ideals that buttress our society.
Announcing its formation on Sunday, the Taiwanese National Party (TNP) left no doubt that its raison d’etre centered on a hardened nationalistic stance vis-a-vis China. Given Beijing’s unyielding claims to Taiwan, added to fears that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is being too “soft” on China, it is not surprising that, with elections looming, we would see the emergence of more hard-line rhetoric.
To a certain extent, that is a welcome development, as it will add a new angle to the soul-searching that ought to precede important elections such as those in January.
However, some elements of the TNP platform give us reason to pause.
One ultimate goal of the party in safeguarding Taiwan is to “expel the Chinese,” whom Ted Lau (劉重義), identified as the “mastermind” behind the party’s ideology, defined as “people who were born in or have lived in Taiwan for an extended period, but who identify [themselves] as Chinese.”
Such rhetoric is dangerous, not only because it borders on a racial definition of identity, but also because it is far too vague. Unless the TNP provides clear parameters on what it means by identity, it will expose itself (not unjustly so) to accusations of inciting “ethnic conflict.”
How one defines his or her identity is a very complex matter, so much so that people are frequently at a loss when asked to define what it means to be Australian or American. Canadians, for example, often define themselves by telling you what they are not — in other words, through contrast with the cultural giant next door.
Multi-ethnic societies like Canada and the US must look elsewhere, beyond mere genetics, to delineate their identity. For such nation-states, it matters little whether one is of Mexican or Chinese stock; as long as descendants of immigrants or recently naturalized citizens agree to be participants in the national experiment and are willing to work toward its betterment, they are entitled to the same status, rights and protections as those who are, along purely ethnic lines, considered “original” citizens.
In fact, ethnic minorities need not even abandon their identity as, say, Colombian first and Canadian second, or Cuban-American: What matters is their sense of belonging to and responsibility toward the melting pot that constitutes the nation-state.
The same rule should apply to Taiwan, which has a long tradition of multiculturalism that can only intensify as the birthrate remains low. What matters is not so much whether one identifies as Taiwanese or Chinese, or Aborigine or immigrant, but rather whether a person is willing to define, abide by, shape and ultimately protect the system of values, culture, laws, mores and languages that make Taiwan unique, and worth keeping unique. If this is the preferred definition of identity of the TNP, then it is one worth supporting. If it isn’t, we had well not go down the road it proposes.
Expelling people who fail to provide the right answer when asked about their identity will invite an endless cycle of division and subdivision that, in the end, will spare no one. Not only that, but this would go against the principle of tolerance nations rely upon for their stability. Just ask any ethnic or religious minority in China how intolerance has worked for them.
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose