Mon, Jan 26, 2015 - Page 8 News List

KMT must face identity problems

By Alfred Tsai 蔡而復

Prominent political philosopher Michael Walzer defines a nation as “a historic community, connected to a meaningful place, enacting and revising a way of life, aiming at political or cultural self-determination.”

People in Taiwan share different national identities and historical experiences. The Election Study Center of National Chengchi University has tracked core political attitudes in the nation since 1992. Regarding national identity, as of June last year, 60.4 percent of those polled regarded themselves as “Taiwanese,” 32.7 percent as “both Taiwanese and Chinese” and 3.5 percent as “Chinese.” This contrasts with public opinion in 1996, when about 49.3 percent identified as “both Taiwanese and Chinese,” 24.1 percent as “Taiwanese” and 17.6 percent as “Chinese.”

On the other hand, for political status, as of June last year, 58.8 percent supported the “status quo” for now or indefinitely, 23.8 percent backed eventual or immediate independence and 10.2 percent opted for eventual or immediate “unification.” In 1996, 45.8 percent supported the “status quo,” 22 percent eventual or immediate unification and 13.6 percent eventual or immediate independence. The data reflect the development of a Taiwanese identity and a rising sentiment leaning toward independence.

How the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) views itself and what vision it has for the nation’s future deserve analysis. Article 1 of the KMT party charter states: “The Chinese Nationalist Party is a democratic, just and innovative political party for all the people.” Article 2 delineates some of the party’s main objectives: “Bring about ethnic integration, unite the people, revive Chinese culture, practice democratic and constitutional government, oppose communism, oppose separatism and champion the interests of the Chinese nation.”

Underlying the party’s efforts are the teachings of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), including the precept that “the world is a commonwealth shared by all,” and the Three Principles of the People — nationalism, democracy and the people’s livelihood — upon which he founded the Republic of China (ROC).

It is because the KMT fails to address Taiwan’s long-standing divisions over identity and political status that many Taiwanese have become skeptical about the party’s policies.

In his 2011 Double Ten National Day address, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that residents of Taiwan “have come to identify solidly with their nation — the Republic of China — and the ROC Constitution has long served as the bedrock of a society-wide consensus.”

This idealistic view, while perhaps prevalent among the KMT’s elite, is problematic because it risks losing touch with mainstream society, where identity with “Taiwan” has come to supersede identity with the “Republic of China.”

Most fundamentally, the 1947 Constitution — originally drafted by the KMT in China — continues to leave the ROC’s jurisdiction unresolved. However, the ROC has already merged with Taiwan, and it is Taiwan that has provided the ROC with actual roots, people and sovereignty.

Support for the KMT has waned because for the sake of expedience it has chosen a vague and winding path in cross-strait relations. Under a precondition of cross-strait peace, Taiwan has two options: Work with Beijing to pursue eventual “unification,” or resist “unification” and maintain the “status quo.”

This story has been viewed 3798 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top