Letter: Controlling the debate

By Ben Goren  / 

Mon, Feb 12, 2007 - Page 8

Jerome Keating's article ("Democracy, the KMT and reality," Feb 7, page 8) makes a number of good points. Most significantly, it highlights how the promise of defending and maintaining Taiwan's still weak democracy must become the first and most important element of any presidential candidate's manifesto for 2008.

In trying to steer debate away from the issue of independence, former president Lee Tung Hui's (李登輝) recent fumbled announcements must also be regarded as a step in the right direction. For any party to succeed in an election, it must control the terms of debate.

Any debate on the so-called "independence" plays Taiwan's democracy into the hands of China, whose internal pressures require its elites to use specifically the Taiwan issue to bolster their own authority. China presents a danger precisely because its embattled leaders can use war as a diversionary and nationalistic strategy.

Taiwan is the trigger China intends to use as part of such a strategy. Declaring formal independence would allow China to take advantage of it as Taiwan is clearly (to China) a provocative action that ruptures the imaginary "status quo."

The pro-independence campaign could therefore be accused of being naive or manipulated by Chinese leaders, who hope for the day when a justification for war is delivered into their hands.

Keating and Lee are sensible in asking for the debate to move toward the maintenance of democracy, an objective that should not generate any reasonable opposition from the international community.

Taiwan is independent. It's now time to fight for the democracy that the KMT seemingly finds so expendable.

Ben Goren