Colonialism means that the people in the colonized country are governed by foreigners, who belong to and have strong emotional ties with their homeland. The colonial power writes the laws, and most of the laws, including the constitution, are written for the benefit of the colonizers and their home nation. If the colonized people oppose the lawmakers, they will be penalized according to the regulations, and this is what the colonizer calls the rule of law.
The Kaohsiung Incident, during which a group of Taiwanese activists challenged the martial law regime, is a classic example. In the end, the incident was deemed a riot and the participants were tried in military courts. Had it not been for the support of and pressure from the global community, those involved might have been killed by the colonizer. Further back, there was also the 228 Incident, which began on Feb. 27, 1947.
Thirty-five years have passed since the Kaohsiung Incident, Taiwan has undergone a series of democratic reforms and there have been changes of government, but the general structure of colonial governance remains, as do its affiliated political parties.
When the tenure of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) ended in 2008, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) seized the opportunity to reclaim power. The party has since proved that it has not changed the view that “the party is the state and the state is the party.”
With the belief that teaming up with a big economy — China — will benefit only a small group of corporations, politicians and businesspeople, while bringing no benefits to the nation, which is a small economy, the KMT has persisted in pushing through its party agenda. To meet Beijing’s demands, it has signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and 18 other deals, including the cross-strait service trade agreement.
These agreements have far-reaching ramifications, such as hastening the export of Taiwanese assets, technology and talent to China. The result has been a depressed Taiwanese economy, where the minimum wage hovers at about NT$22,000 and workers’ real salaries have dropped to the low standard of 16 years ago with housing and commodity prices continuing to rise by the year, causing widespread public suffering.
The claim that the ECFA will bring economic benefits to both sides of the Taiwan Strait is a ruse aimed at covering the strategy to absorb Taiwan’s small economy into China’s big economy, thereby establishing an economic colonial framework in which China is at the center and Taiwan is on the periphery. The ultimate goal is to annex Taiwan through economic means.
The service trade agreement is to complement the ECFA, and if it becomes effective, China will be able to penetrate all areas in Taiwan and every local household with its mammoth population and huge assets, thus establishing a comprehensive network of local power brokers and tightening its grip on Taiwanese politics.
Hence, the service trade agreement is not merely an economic issue, but also a political issue. Economically speaking, the service trade agreement is a device that the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party collaborated on to weaken Taiwan, whereas from a political perspective, it serves to destroy the nation.
It is worth stressing that the problem with the service trade agreement is not merely a lack of transparency; it is also hugely disadvantageous to the Taiwanese public and economy.
To bring about a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), and to realize Ma’s goal of “eventual unification” — the essential character of colonial rule — the Ma regime, breaching the normal procedures of a constitutional democracy and turning a blind eye to damage done to the shared future of all Taiwanese, forced the devastating service trade agreement through a committee review to the legislative floor, a move that will only serve to weaken and eventually destroy Taiwan.
In response, a group of young Taiwanese rose up to safeguard the nation’s core values and its survival in an act of righteousness that deserves praise and commendation.
After the student-led Sunflower movement managed to block the passage of the service trade agreement through the legislature, the nation’s economy has seen a slow, but steady revival, as shown by the huge influx of foreign investment in the Taiwanese stock market since the movement began.
However, the Ma regime regards these activists’ brave defense of the nation as a criminal act and said they were rioting. Not only did this response create contempt, it also followed almost the exact same reasoning followed by those in power 35 years ago during the Kaohsiung Incident. It shows that Taiwan remains in a sub-colonial era in which the foreign power remains in control and it also proves that although the Ma regime is, nominally, an elected government, it is essentially a foreign power. This is the true nature of the KMT.
Huang Tien-lin is a former national policy adviser.
Translated by Ethan Zhan
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