Sat, Jun 08, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Tiananmen: Lest Taiwanese forget

By Lin Thung-hong 林宗弘

“With Hong Kong under its thumb, what is Beijing’s next objective? The answer is obvious: Taiwan,” he said.

“This is why next year’s presidential election is so crucial. Next year, if Taiwanese do not risk everything to safeguard [their freedom], Taiwan’s freedoms will gradually disappear, very possibly in less than 20 years,” he said.

The past 30 years of Hong Kong’s history proves that, far from being alarmist talk, these warnings should be a wake-up for all Taiwanese.

With the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) turning to despotism and international isolation, with Washington and Beijing locked in a geopolitical and technological power struggle, Taiwan has become the new battleground for liberal democracy.

Thirty years from now, the PRC’s Taiwan strategy is likely to take a leaf out of Sun Tzu’s (孫子) The Art of War (孫子兵法): “The highest form of generalship is to disrupt the enemy’s plans.”

In practice, this would mean that Beijing would continue to buy off or threaten a minority of Taiwanese, and use fake news and propaganda to put the public in a state of paralysis. China would also seek to manipulate public debate in a way that serves to intensify and exacerbate existing contradictions within Taiwanese society and help pro-China politicians seize power.

The more incompetent these pro-China politicians are, the greater the risk that the industrial upgrade would fail to materialize and technology would flow out of Taiwan. In such a situation, as Taiwan’s economy became ever more reliant on handouts from the PRC, public debate — both online and offline — would become filled with hate.

A current example of this is Chinese keyboard warriors masquerading as Taiwanese, who often post intimidating messages online, such as threatening to kill a person’s entire family.

As this happens, the public would become less able to distinguish who the real enemy is, self-censorship would creep into public debate and the nation would begin to lose confidence in liberal democracy. Today’s Hong Kong would be tomorrow’s Taiwan.

On the 60th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, if Taiwan has been stripped of its liberal democracy, and people’s lives and their financial assets are under threat from the PRC, who would dare to openly commemorate the massacre?

So perhaps the 30th anniversary of the massacre will serve as a looking glass into the future. Some will choose silence and willful amnesia (“we must look forward, not backward”). Others will attempt to distort history by arguing that nobody actually died on June 3 and 4, or that Western media have exaggerated the events.

Others still will try to whitewash the massacre by arguing that: “Although then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping authorized the violence, he did make valuable contributions.”

We must remember that — regardless of what confused arguments and muddled thinking that are put forth — they come from the mouths of pro-China politicians and are symptomatic of a fifth column in our midst.

At this key juncture, when we are fighting for the continued survival of Taiwanese democracy and domestic industry, we must support the global movement to commemorate the massacre, realize that we can save our future and revive the hope that one day both sides of the Taiwan Strait would cherish the liberal democratic values that we in Taiwan enjoy today.

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