Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Taiwanese values mean ‘not PRC’s’

As a democratic and diverse society, it is only natural that there would be many different interpretations in Taiwan of the term “Taiwanese values.” It is difficult to define the term, but it is easy to criticize others’ discourse on what it means, and so the debate is often reduced to people talking past each other.

Since Taiwan is not a normal nation, issues that would be taken for granted in such nations continue to be debated here.

Those who are opposed to Taiwanese values often use democracy and diversity to bring in a valuative relativism to the point that Taiwan’s core values become fuzzy and obscure, which leaves them with the much-reviled Taiwanese independence as an imaginary enemy.

It is not surprising that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) are unable to instantly clarify their views of Taiwanese values.

An exploration of Taiwanese values could start by putting aside the internal political spectrum to avoid emotional attachments and instead describe what it is not.

By using such a negative description, we get an outline that can help us to provide a positive description of Taiwanese values. The external reference system thus created will be even more helpful if it stands in sharp contrast to Taiwan.

The best choice, then, would be to start with China. Chinese values are very clear, and in addition, China is trying hard to integrate Taiwan into these values.

However, Chinese and Taiwanese values repel each other like opposite magnetic poles. China’s one-party authoritarian regime manipulates civil society, and it uses an iron fist in dealing with human rights activists fighting for democracy and freedom.

The Chinese regime rejects universal values and insists on leftist politics and rightist economics as it tries to rewrite international norms with the use of “sharp power.” The imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) and Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) and the boycott against South Korea’s Lotte Group, among others, are just the beginning of the disaster caused by Chinese values.

In addition, China uses its state capitalism and state-run enterprises to dictate domestic development, while it uses its factories and market as weapons in its international battle for business.

To consolidate its hold on power, Beijing is pursuing great power status, devoting itself to putting its economy first and creating a monopoly for the rich and powerful, because once economic growth slows down, economic problems will turn into a political and social crisis.

This is why advanced construction has failed to make China a modern country.

China behaves as a pre-modern state, domestically and internationally. Domestically, it treats its people as subjects rather than citizens or the masters of the nation, which is the case in modern states. Externally, it rejects the modern international order and hopes to realize its imaginary borders relying on its hard and even sharp power.

In addition, soft powers, such as education, culture, science and technology, religious beliefs and innovation, continue to suffer from a high degree of political intervention. These areas are used to serve the party-state ideology, and Beijing’s Confucius Institutes are now reaching into the international domain.

Despite the rapid circulation of information in the digital era, China isolates itself and lacks the confidence it needs to develop peacefully. Consequently, nationalism is the last political commodity left to the state, and there is a distinct lack of a civilizational vision in its “Chinese dream.”

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