The political effects of the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident could be seen in the 2000 presidential election, in which former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won and gained the right to interpret what “Republic of China (ROC)” meant. In the eyes of the DPP, the ROC means Taiwan. However, since former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and his Taiwanese patry members party lost power in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the KMT has reverted to its China stance.
Although the KMT cannot express this stance even under the “one China, different interpretations” concept, the party still sticks closely to the so-called “1992 consensus” to go against its own views and accommodate the annexation strategies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), once the KMT’s inferior but now its superior.
This shows that the KMT is not a part of the Taiwanese community, but an accessory to the Chinese community. A similar mentality exists in the mind of veteran political activist Shih Ming-te (施明德), a fighter of the old days who has suddenly had the idea that “a broad one China framework” can hold both the ROC and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
From 1912 to 1949, the ROC was China; from 1949 to present, the PRC has been China. Although the ROC and the PRC are separated by the Taiwan Strait and coexist, the two are not separate nations under international law. This lack of completeness means that the ROC, the governing organization and political power in Taiwan, is not complete as a nation, putting it in danger.
In 1996, direct elections were introduced to presidential elections. Surely that should mean Taiwan has been an independent nation since then? Not entirely, because of the lack of a new constitutional procedure and international recognition.
When the DPP was in power, the imagined community that existed in Taiwan was the Taiwanese nation, but when the KMT is in power, this is distorted and begins to lean toward China.
The Republic of China under “one China with different interpretations” is merely a political lie that the KMT uses to win the support of Taiwanese. The CCP does not even bother to interpret what ROC means; it is just the remainder of a China in exile in Taiwan that the CCP has failed to annihilate.
The Kaohsiung Incident was not enough to bring down the KMT. In 2000, Chen, then the DPP’s presidential candidate, won the election thanks to division and competition between former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) of the KMT and then-independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜).
Near the end of Chen’s second term, Shih, with the KMT’s support, mobilized a campaign to overthrow Chen in the name of fighting corruption; in a sense, the fighter of a past era was giving the DPP a lesson.
Although Shih’s thirst for fame was satisfied, he pushed himself from the progressive to the reactionary camp. Everyone knew that the KMT was Taiwan’s most corrupt organization.
In 2008, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) ran for president. Chen and Hsieh were the best representatives of the defense attorneys in the Kaohsiung Incident and both reached high political status.
When the DPP was in its worst shape, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who was not involved in the Kaohsiung Incident, ran for president in 2012 and is to run again next year, which shows that history is moving forward.
She must be able to mobilize the youth think before she makes a move and break new ground to leave behind a glorious legacy as history moves forward in a time of change.
Lee Min-yung is a poet.
Translated by Ethan Zhan
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