Following the PUSH for more democratic reforms in the 1990s, a quiet revolution has freed Taiwan of its authoritarian mentality. After joining the ranks of democratic states in 1996 and experiencing the transition of ruling parties in 2000, Taiwan began a new wave of national reforms.
The campaign to normalize the country has spread rapidly, and alongside the push for transitional justice it has raised demands for sweeping changes to the Constitution, political parties and socio-economic conditions. At the same time, there has been an awakening of Taiwanese identity and awareness from the grassroots up.
The campaigns for more changes consist of three major parts.
Normalizing the country involves facing domestic reactionary powers and China's growing influence. It requires that ordinary people ponder the nation's future and take a stand for its sovereignty and educational, economic and political reforms. Examples of targets for such reforms are the Constitution, the electoral system, the legislature, history and economic and trade exchanges with China.
Benchmarks for gauging the success of this campaign are the change to the nation's title, constitutional reform and UN membership -- goals supported by a consensus among more than 70 percent of the public. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has also agreed that the party should work toward the goals in its "normal country resolution."
A few days ago, however, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
The second campaign is for normalization of the legislature. The KMT's actions indicate that it still only wants one political party -- itself -- and one China that includes Taiwan. The KMT is against Taiwanese identity and has, in the past, used the pan-blue legislative majority to obstruct the ruling party's operations by thwarting all normalization reforms, including changes to history textbooks, the review of grand justice nominees and the approval of the Control Yuan nominations. The KMT considers transitional justice unimportant and has no intention of returning its stolen assets. Because the KMT continues to monopolize the legislature and block the DPP, the legislature has become abnormal, which has seriously impacted on national governance and the economy.
Several calls have also been made recently for normalizing the legislature. Support for the DPP to win the majority of legislative seats in next year's elections is increasing by the day among those who realize the importance of the Legislative Yuan.
A healthy, unstigmatized Taiwanese identity is the third campaign. It has been very successful thanks to educational reforms and the various grassroots groups that have worked to increase awareness and remove the stigma on Taiwanese culture. Today, more than 70 percent of the public identify themselves as Taiwanese and recognize Taiwan as an independent and sovereign state. More than 80 percent of the public denounced China's "Anti-Secession" law (反分裂法) in 2005, which claimed that Taiwan was part of China. Thus, normalization of Taiwanese awareness has become the best approach to prevent Taiwan from being annexed by China.
Margot Chen is a research fellow at Taiwan Advocates, a think tank initiated by former president Lee Teng-hui.
Translated by Ted Yang