People should be careful when making comparisons between the two Koreas and the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
At the Panmunjom summit on April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un crossed the North-South border with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. It was an unexpected move that attracted global attention.
The pro-China camp in Taiwan saw a similarity to Taiwan and China, and expressed the hope that the two sides would break the ice and start engaging in dialogue, as the two Koreas have done.
Regretfully, the two sides of the Strait are in no way like the two Koreas — the two Koreas are internationally recognized nations and UN member states.
While China is an internationally recognized nation and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Taiwan is neither, and for that reason, China would not treat Taiwan as an equal.
The reason Taiwan holds none of those positions is that China regards Taiwan as an inalienable part of its territory. Beijing threatens and intimidates Taiwan, and most Taiwanese are afraid to declare independence for fear of war.
The cross-strait relationship is completely unequal and cannot be compared to the two Koreas.
People saw clear proof of this from the meek and submissive attitude adopted by former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) while listening to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) when he headed a delegation of Taiwanese entrepreneurs to the Boao Forum for Asia in China last month.
People could see that China takes a superior attitude toward Taiwan and its leaders from the way Chinese officials treated the former vice president. As long as this attitude remains unchanged, it will be impossible for the two sides of the Strait to be like the two Koreas.
Pro-China Taiwanese not only take China’s attitude for granted and never criticize Beijing, but actually encourage China’s arrogance. Yet they still say that they hope the two sides of the Strait can be like the two Koreas — is it ignorance, or do they have a hidden agenda?
The Democratic Progressive Party emphasizes dignity; the Chinese Nationalist Party also emphasizes dignity — everyone talks about dignity. Siew is not so lowly that he does not value dignity.
However, if you act timid and speak with a servile tone even when asking for reciprocal dignity, you discredit your dignity.
In other words, whether you have dignity depends on what kind of attitude you have when asking for dignity.
If you are undignified when asking for dignity, how can you deserve it? Dignity is not something that can be asked for, but is something shown by you.
A speech by Premier William Lai (賴清德) — then Tainan mayor — to Chinese government and university officials at Fudan University in China in June 2014 was neither timid nor servile, but was firm and sharp and made the other side uneasy and unable to respond. This is an example of a dignified performance.
Taiwanese who say they admire the two Koreas should work together to counter China’s arrogance and unreasonableness, and devote their efforts to the cause of establishing Taiwan as a nation, so that the cross-strait relationship can become a true state-to-state relationship.
Taiwanese could then go a step further and develop a friendship with China, instead of being Beijing’s lackeys, which only serves to keep Taiwan down.
Liu Che-chia is founder of the Vision, Independence and Development Advocacy Society of Taiwan.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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