Some media and well-known figures have a habit of dropping obscure hints about cross-strait unification. For example, former minister of culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said in an interview with Deutsche Welle on March 3 that as long as Taiwan and China do not trust one another, there would always be a possibility of China annexing Taiwan by force.
Taiwan’s leaders should not get so caught up with their internal power struggles that they fail to see the huge changes taking place in China and the new global order that is forming, she said, adding that if they fail to understand the wider context, Taiwan would eliminate itself without China having to lift a finger.
If Taiwan’s leaders lack vision and strong determination and are obsessed with the four-year election cycle, Lung said she would feel very pessimistic about the nation’s prospects.
However, as long as Taiwanese do not accept unification, the possibility of forceful Chinese annexation will always be there, regardless of cross-strait trust.
Does anyone imagine that trusting China could avert being forced into unification? On the contrary, trusting China could make it happen even easier.
Consider how the Dalai Lama accepted the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, but still ended up in exile in India.
Then there is the idea that Taiwan’s leaders should not busy themselves with infighting while failing to see the great changes happening in China.
China has indeed seen some big changes. Some people have gotten rich, as seen in the number of wealthy delegates attending this month’s meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress.
However, China has plenty of infighting and it is much bloodier than Taiwan’s. Many officials have “been suicided,” including one former military police chief who supposedly killed himself with a chopstick. Many talented Chinese die in mysterious ways.
Taiwan does have infighting, as all nations do. In democracies, political parties compete with one another and of course they monitor and criticize one another. Would Taiwan be better off being like China, where dissidents die unnatural deaths?
The whole world is watching the huge changes happening in China, and some even say a new world order might be forming. Different people have different opinions about it. The so-called “new order” that is now taking shape is a dictatorial one.
In China, the removal of presidential term limits marks the birth of a new empire. What does Lung have to say about that?
There is also Lung’s remark about understanding the wider context. It seems to echo what many people say about Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平): that because he has vision and determination, China should amend its constitution to abolish term limits. They say a leader can even stay in office for life as long as he does good for the nation, and especially the economy.
Who knows whether Taiwan will really be eliminated? If it is, it would be because China annexes it by force.
What Taiwanese do know is that democracies have periodic elections, because each election is an expression of the popular will and periodic elections allow citizens to express their will anew. This is the democratic chain of legitimacy for maintaining state power. Any country without elections would be the same as China.
Opinions such as Lung’s have a common conclusion. Having told so many pessimistic stories, they feel Taiwan might as well unite with China. However, they never dare say it straight out, because too few Taiwanese support unification, and those that do are afraid of being labeled as pro-communist.
Chen Kuan-fu is a graduate student in law at National Taipei University.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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