Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) earlier this month issued a new slogan when he said China would “never permit any person, any organization, any political party, at any time or in any form to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China.”
With the exception of leaders of the Chinese Communist Party routinely using this sentence structure — “we will never allow” — it is something that is more often said by gangster leaders. They can often be heard saying things like “we will never allow any person, at any time or in any way, to betray the organization.”
They might also address the outside world, saying things like “we will never allow any person, at any time or in any way, to challenge our gang” or “we will never allow any person, for any reason or in any way, to delay payment when we collect debts” or “we will never allow anyone at any time to refuse to pay for protection.”
Generally speaking, the kind of gangster that habitually uses this kind of language does not have to be reasonable.
If you ask them why they have the right to not allow other people to do this, that or the other, they will just shout back at you, saying that they will never allow anyone at any time to question them, and you should be happy that he has refrained from giving you a good beating.
Xi’s gangster approach is not only aimed at East Turkestan — which the Chinese call Xinjiang — or Tibet — which they call Xizang, it is of course also aimed at Taiwan.
These first two are colonies under Beijing’s colonial rule, and they are not Chinese. Today, their people do not want to remain under Chinese rule, they want their independence restored, and it is not a matter of “separating any piece of Chinese territory from China.”
As for Taiwan, it has never been ruled by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and it is not part of the PRC’s territory. Taiwan wants to continue to maintain its autonomy and independence, and this is also not a matter of “separating any piece of Chinese territory from China.”
However, this most fundamental reasoning is something that this gangster boss will never be able to understand.
The only thing he understands is the political mythology that says that China and Taiwan “speak the same language and are of the same race,” and because they share the same blood, the two should be united.
The odd thing is that the Chinese do not apply this mythical view of things to “Xinjiang” or “Xizang.”
East Turkestan and Tibet are racially different, speak different languages and have a different religion, history and culture, so they share neither language nor ethnicity with the Chinese.
Why, then, is Beijing forcing them to be parts of China?
One can only wonder how many Taiwanese have opened their minds and hearts to Beijing as a result of gangster boss Xi and his intimidations. In addition to expressing an anti-democratic hegemonic attitude, Xi also manages to not even get close to the core issue.
The issue of Taiwanese independence is not an issue of nationalism, and it is not an attempt to reject the idea of shared language and race; it is about choosing democracy and freedom, and about the significance of national sovereignty.
If Taiwan were annexed by China, its people would have to become citizens of an autocratic state. One can only wonder if most Taiwanese would want to be free Taiwanese — Taiwan enjoys an agreggate freedom rating of 91 on Freedom House’s scale of 100 — or citizens of China, a nation with an agreggate rating of 15. This is something that Xi and those of his ilk must understand.
A certain journalist, who used to hold an important post at the now-defunct Capital Morning Post, but then turned his coat with the wind and went on to write a column for the China Times, has said that the responsibility for resolving the cross-strait issue lies with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her government.
That is wrong to an almost unimaginable degree: The resolution to the cross-strait issue lies with China and its willingness to democratize.
Anyone who wants to stop worrying about Taiwanese independence should do their best to urge China to democratize. That is the only way to bring about a fundamental solution.
Lee Hsiao-feng is a professor at the Graduate School of Taiwanese Culture at National Taipei University of Education.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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