A few days ago, when Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) met, Xi said: “It has never changed, and will never change that we belong to one nation.”
Xi’s statement that the situation “will never change” was very strong. In a world where change is the norm, what was Xi implying when he used such strong language?
Putting Xi’s idea about change into a literary context, we may be reminded of desperate, forced or violent love. We may be reminded of a person who uses violent language in the name of love as they face sure separation from the other in a context that cannot be changed. Violent language is an extension of the will. When one party “threatens” to be with the other party forever, regardless of what may happen, they are essentially destroying the other party’s free will. Here, we may imagine a situation in which one party threatens the other party with physical violence if that other party is intent on breaking up.
Expressions like “things will never change” are extremely overbearing and show how Xi believes that he has an absolute monopoly on the truth. Deconstructing such expressions requires the wisdom of counterquestioning, for, after all, what does a comment like this mean? If we look at it in terms of a timeline, we will see that such nationalistic vocabulary lost its effectiveness a long time ago. In the contemporary world, the relationship between a country and its people is becoming increasingly like a contract, and national legitimacy is based on the public will. In the past, nationalism was used to save a country and forge a sense of national identity in the face of invasion.
Saying that things never will change is part of Beijing’s “one China” worldview and this is echoed in China’s national anthem, March of the Volunteers, which sings of how “the Chinese have arrived at their most perilous time.”
However, in reality, this is all just a part of history and should be treated the same way we flick through the pages of a history book.
In this day and age, statements that things will never change may sound severe, but they are empty threats. When deconstructing threats like this, it is very important to point out the violent nature inherent in such language.
Taiwan’s current ruling party has proven itself to be irresponsible and incompetent in this regard.
It has allowed Beijing to make constant and excessive demands, and the most it has ever done against Beijing’s violent language is to politely call on them to “pay attention to the fact that the Republic of China exists.”
However, demanding that others “pay attention to” something is in essence a display of weakness and does not afford it any power to resist China. In response to Chinese official requests, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has also shown it does not want to push ahead with its agenda in a proactive manner. If it follows the footsteps of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and merely goes back and forth within the framework of “one China” and “each side having its own interpretation,” it will never be able to do anything but fall into the “context” Beijing has set up.
Now, what we should do is directly point out how Xi greets his guests with a big smile and a hidden dagger up his sleeve and how violent his language is, a form of violence that he does not even try to conceal. Xi’s statement that things will never change is frightening, but what makes it so is all the missiles China has aimed at Taiwan. By clearly pointing out this fact, Taiwanese can at least become more aware of the use of violent language.