Is there any link between the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Taiwan independence clause and election results?
Is the clause something that is not accepted by the majority of voters?
Is the clause really the reason the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) refuses to deal with the DPP?
Now that DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) has proposed that freezing the clause might help facilitate cross-strait dialogue, it would be worthwhile to look at whether this clause, viewed as a breakdown in DPP-CCP dialogue by China, the US and the international community, is really in need of a review.
A human rights lawyer, who is also a Falun Gong practitioner and has been kicked out of Hong Kong by the authorities many times, said that China is now more than willing to engage with any person or group from Taiwan as long as they have nothing to do with the Falun Gong, which the lawyer said the CCP views as a plague.
From another perspective, the first-ever cross-strait peace forum held in Shanghai last October was like China opening a big door to those in the green camp. Deep-green Taiwanese independence supporters should have accepted invitations and participated in the event.
The main reason Taiwanese independence supporters and Falun Gong practitioners receive such different treatment is because Taiwanese independence is a political idea and will not threaten the continued rule of the CCP over China.
However, the underground practitioners of Falun Gong, who could be anywhere around China at any time in any number, are viewed by the CCP as a cancer it has to eradicate. To the CCP, there is opportunity for compromise between different political beliefs and opposing political forces are capable of being integrated.
However, no compromises can be made when it comes to lofty ideals and beliefs.
Therefore, once the CCP has brought the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fully to its side, Taiwanese independence supporters will become the next group the CCP will try to buy out.
Is the clause detrimental to the outcome of elections?
Experience has showed that the clause has little to do with how a president fares, in the way former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was re-elected despite not kowtowing to China. Or, for instance, the way in which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is now the most unpopular president in Taiwan’s history despite managing to avoid becoming enemies with China. Any sort of review that does not take into account voter support or economic issues and views electoral success as linked to a particular political doctrine, is shallow at best.
If politics lacks a consistent set of ideals, then all that is left with is empty rhetoric, or what the young people might call “talking rubbish.”
If a political party is merely left with empty rhetoric, it is like a broken kite, and if such a party wants to get blown away in the wind, then it should be allowed to do just that.
Steve Wang is an assistant professor at the Institute of European Studies at Nanhua University.
Translated by Drew Cameron