‘Soft power’ advantage
In former US president Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural address, several key topics were raised to do with social, economic, political and educational issues that Taiwan should take heed of.
It is a rule that a stable economic environment can create a promising and competitive country. Along with the trend of globalization, every country is bound together. If one plunges into a financial crisis, the impact of economic downturn might spread to the rest of the world. Although the European debt crisis has not hit Taiwan too hard yet, we should be aware of the situation to prevent possible financial pain.
For Taiwan, to intensify and sustain global competitiveness in the international context, tourism is one of the potential tools of “soft power” to maintain economic growth. In recent years, there have been more international tourists coming to Taiwan because the government has liberalized rules regarding tourists from China.
According to the World Economic Forum’s The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011, Taiwan was ranked 37th this year. It is inspiring news that should encourage Taiwanese to create a better future, but Taiwan must ponder the next step. What should the government do to grasp this opportunity to sustainably develop the country’s tourism industry? If Taiwan can be successful in this sector, it would benefit the government and people.
As Reagan said in his 1981 address: “We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow.”
In Taiwan, we are at a crossroads with our tourism industry, so we need to act today.
First, we should establish guidelines for tourist groups to maintain the quality. Second, the government must clamp down on the sale of fake souvenirs, such as tea, coral and jewelry. Third, the environment and tourist attractions need control systems to better preserve key sites.
Taiwan is a small country, but it is also a gorgeous land with a variety of natural resources. Furthermore, we have advanced technology and one of the best public transportation systems in the world. There is no doubt that Taiwan is worth visiting.
Democracy bridges divide
The fundamental problem in Taiwanese politics is that the two main political parties disagree over their vision for the future of the country. This clash is rooted in the two parties having fundamentally different core values.
The core value of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is Chinese nationalism. It identifies with the Republic of China (ROC) as an ethnocentric Chinese nation, of which Taiwan forms a part.
This sets up a contest with many people in Taiwan who prefer to identify with Taiwan or being Taiwanese rather than being a part of China or being Chinese.
The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) core value is often thought to be Taiwanese independence.
However, I believe the DPP’s core value is not Taiwanese independence, but Taiwanese democracy. This is particularly highlighted in the DPP’s 1999 Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, which contains some of the key principles that define and guide the party.
Where can the KMT and DPP find a consensus between these two opposing values of Chinese nationalism and Taiwanese democracy? I think the key point is that democracy must be the shared value between the parties.
Given this, the KMT should change its core value from Chinese nationalism to Chinese democracy. Using this value, it can promote the development of the ROC as a model of Chinese democracy. This can both safeguard the existing democracy in Taiwan and promote democracy in the People’s Republic of China.
This would narrow the gap between the DPP and KMT over their vision for Taiwan’s future. The DPP’s fundamental mission is to promote democracy in Taiwan, but it is also concerned about China. The promotion of democracy in China is even included in the DPP’s 1999 resolution.
Numerous statements by DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also support the fact that promoting democracy in China is something the DPP is concerned about.
The argument over whether the nation is Taiwan or the ROC could also be resolved through agreement on the key principle of democracy. Both the KMT’s ROC and the DPP’s Taiwan should be based on the democratic polity of 23 million people living in the territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. It is the democratic rights of these 23 million people that define the nation. Safeguarding these rights is the key to Taiwan’s future.
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