Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Taiwanese must follow others away from China

By Chiou Chwei-liang 邱垂亮

On Aug. 31, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Li Keng Kuei-fang (厲耿桂芳) asked Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and others at a question-and-answer session whether he dared to identify as not only Taiwanese, but also Chinese.

Ko answered that there is no standard answer to this question and that he sees himself as a member of the “Chinese cultural circle.”

Taipei Department of Education Commissioner Tseng Tsan-chin (曾燦金), who also attended, answered the question by saying that he is a member of the Chinese region, while Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Chung Yung-feng (鍾永豐) said that he is a Taiwanese who has been influenced by Chinese culture.

They all cautiously considered and reluctantly gave their answers, which is interesting to note and something that all Taiwanese should give some further thought to.

None of them said that they are Chinese, which is both correct and shows some backbone.

Comparing the three, Chung’s answer was the most correct, Tseng’s answer was not entirely correct and the mayor’s answer was the least correct.

Chinese culture has a long history, and its effects reach deep and far. Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam and all other East Asian nations have been profoundly influenced by Chinese culture and they all used to be seen as members of the Chinese cultural circle.

However, since the 19th century, and especially after the Meiji Restoration in Japan, these nations have clearly shown a determination to build their own unique cultures and national identities, and they have refused to be labeled as members of the Chinese cultural circle any longer.

Today, it would be a great humiliation for these nations to be called members of the Chinese cultural circle.

Following the end of World War II, the political, economic and cultural development of the four Asian Tigers — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea — as well as Japan, have been deeply influenced by modern Western thinking on human rights, democracy, rule of law, science and technology, and education.

Although this has not changed their cultures completely, it has had fundamental consequences.

In their worldviews, value systems and habits when it comes to the four basic necessities of life — food, clothing, housing and transportation — these nations are becoming more advanced, following places like the US and the UK, and less like authoritarian China.

This progress is obvious to all.

Taiwan has been influenced by local Aboriginal rule, as well as its colonial rulers of the past 400 years.

With the modernization of local politics, the economy and society, there is no doubt that Taiwanese culture has developed into a unique and independent entity.

Taiwan has embraced the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights, which are also the mainstream values of 21st century social development.

It is absurd that some Taiwanese, especially political leaders like Ko, still believe that they are members of the rotten, feudal and authoritarian Chinese culture.

Taiwanese should learn from Japan and South Korea, and insist on the independence of its culture and politics.

We are Taiwanese, not Chinese.

Chiou Chwei-liang is a former national policy adviser to the president.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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