Thu, Sep 06, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Common vision needed to fight China

A shared consciousness and vision for the nation’s future are crucial to stave off Beijing’s efforts to subvert Taiwan’s narrative of its own identity.

Japan and the two Koreas are examples of nations with a mostly ethnically homogeneous populace fiercely proud of their cultures and histories.

China, with a rich culture spanning more than five millennia of largely uninterrupted development, and which has inspired and informed the cultures of many other nations in the region — Taiwan, Japan and the Koreas included — has much to be proud of.

A strong sense of nationalism, at its best, is a unifier; at its worst, it is a threat to peace.

Ethnic homogeneity and a long-standing shared culture can create national cohesion; so can shared experience and vision.

The US and the UK are nations of immigrants. The former is the younger nation, driven by the nature of its radical experiment with democracy, its embrace of diversity and the social mobility that lies at the core of the American Dream. The latter has the longer history, with its roots in the richness of cultural vibrancy that immigration has brought.

Taiwan is the product of a spectacularly storied past few centuries. It consists of a mixture of Aboriginal tribes, the descendants of immigrant farmers and merchants from southern China and a wave of immigrants who arrived after World War II with the exiled Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

Taiwan’s populace has gone through several major changes of national identification — from Aboriginal inhabitants to Chinese immigrants to subjects of colonial Japan to citizens of the Republic of China (ROC).

The government is now encouraging the acceleration and consolidation of another wave of immigration — of peoples from other nations in the region, including China — embracing and assimilating the “new immigrants.”

Amid the influx of different waves of immigrants over the centuries has emerged a sense of a Taiwanese identity. The identity with Taiwan has been solidified by justified pride in the nation’s technological, economic, democratic and socially progressive achievements.

One way in which this is manifest is the push for the nation’s athletes to participate in international competitions under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei.”

The name “Chinese Taipei” has been forced upon the nation by a foreign regime: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The title of the national team extends far beyond a mere name: It strikes at the heart of national identity, and even has national security implications.

If there is no shared identity, no shared vision of purpose, how do the armed forces maintain the level of morale and vigilance required to fight an aggressor?

Part of the CCP’s “united front” tactics is to chip away at this shared identity and national purpose. Beijing is not claiming that Taiwanese are not part of the same group, but it is challenging how that group is defined — by claiming it as a sub-group of the Chinese nation.

Thus, the CCP’s continued hammering in of the concept — among its own citizens, with the international community and in Taiwan itself — that there is only “one China,” and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China; and by referring to Taiwanese as “compatriots” — a word that not only implies, but assumes that Taiwanese and Chinese belong to the same country — consolidates a narrative for Taiwan that is completely at odds with a separate Taiwanese identity.

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