Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Changing perceptions in China

By Fan Shih-ping 范世平

This shows that the Golden Horse Film Awards rises above the mass audience-oriented movie market in China and affords such movies the chance to be evaluated by independent pundits, perhaps enabling cutting edge directors from China to stand out. Furthermore, the focus the awards put on these movies will expose Chinese movie audiences to the values Taiwanese hold dear: Our inclusiveness of niche markets, cultural diversity, disadvantaged groups and democratic values. These will come to influence the audiences in China. Opposition to this by DPP legislators will not be judged kindly by the public.

Another issue of late that has proven to be contentious is the government extending health insurance to Chinese students who study in Taiwan. The sole reason that people are opposed to this is that Chinese students are not citizens of the Republic of China (ROC) and therefore have no right to benefit from our health insurance. In the light of current concerns about the health insurance fund the government was always going to come under fire for this policy, especially since the sentiment is not reciprocated to Taiwanese students in China.

These objections are primarily coming from DPP-affiliated politicians and the pro-green media and, while one cannot say they are wrong to think this way, they are taking a rather short-sighted stance and failing to see the forest for the trees.

When Chinese students come to Taiwan they see many aspects of life are in stark contrast to life back home: The democratic rule of law, the lack of Internet censorship and controls, helpful public bodies, a welcoming and harmonious society and a generally higher standard of living. Many Chinese students say they miss Taiwan after they return home.

It is these individuals, who have found out what Taiwan is really like, who have identified with Taiwan’s society and feel that is worth supporting. They are going to be the most effective guarantor for the nation’s security.

After Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) became DPP chairman, he said he wanted to engage more with China. For his party to now oppose health insurance provision for Chinese students while they are in Taiwan is counter to the logic of that initial vision.

The DPP wants to hold a grand debate on its strategy vis-a-vis China. Yes, it has to address issues like which resolutions to retain and which to ditch, and whether to accept the so called “1992 consensus” as a starting point for negotiations with China. However, the face it presents to the Chinese public and how it approaches the issues of democracy, human rights and society in China will be even more important.

The DPP needs to maintain an attitude of being “anti-communist yet not anti-China” and to engage more actively with the Chinese. Perhaps the Chinese will eventually identify with the DPP and offer it their support.

Fan Shih-ping is a professor in the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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