China brings political awareness to Taiwanese

By Chen Mao-hsiung 陳茂雄  / 

Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 6

Following the attack on National Taiwan University students by pro-unification groups, Chinese Union Promotion Party (CUPP) founder Chang “White Wolf” An-le (張安樂) attracted a lot of criticism when he said that “they fought well.”

Legislators have said that according to a 2014 report on the Boxun News Web site, China has been providing huge sums to Chang and the Bamboo Union triad to keep them in operation, something that Chang has said is “nonsense.”

Regardless of whether the CUPP has received money from China, it has all along seen itself as being an emissary of China and it is probably acting on Chinese instructions. However, these actions on China’s part are in fact helping Taiwanese independence.

When Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) regime began its colonial dictatorship in Taiwan, it was not only a matter of dictatorship. Taiwanese were not treated as equal to Mainlanders, and this was the reason behind the Taiwanese independence movement. The goal of the movement was to overthrow the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime.

At the time, the Chiang regime was sensitive to the independence movement. Although movement members openly promoted Taiwanese independence abroad, domestically they have been called a democracy movement.

During the “dangwai” (outside the party, 黨外) era, the democracy movement — which implies the independence movement — contested elections and relied on political awareness to attract voter support. Since Taiwanese were suppressed, political awareness was strong.

The same was true in the early days after the establishment of the Democratic Progressive Party, which continued to rely on political awareness to attract voter support.

Following the democratization of Taiwanese politics, Taiwanese were no longer oppressed and political awareness slowly faded — and in turn support for Taiwanese independence faded.

More than 70 percent of all Taiwanese identify with Taiwan and see it as a nation, and pro-independence advocates see this as growing support for the independence movement.

However, most people already see Taiwan as an independent country, because they only know the nation as independent, and they follow the international view that when the people in a country form their own government, exercise their own sovereignty and are not ruled by another country, they meet the requirements for being a sovereign nation.

This has nothing to do with political factors. It is a matter of geographical Taiwanese independence rather than independence grounded on political factors. Although more than 70 percent of Taiwanese say that the nation is independent, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — a pro-unification advocate — was elected by a majority of the votes.

There are currently very few people working for Taiwanese independence grounded on political factors and they are being overtaken by geographical Taiwanese independence, which is the view among the younger generation that the nation is independent because that is all they know.

The reason for this change is that the public are no longer oppressed.

The violence against Taiwanese students by pro-unification forces will once again increase the feeling among Taiwanese of being oppressed and many of those whose independence view is based on geography will adopt a more political view, with this group developing political awareness based on opposition to pro-Chinese forces.

In the end, the Chinese have miscalculated the situation.

Chen Mao-hsiung is a retired National Sun Yat-sen University professor and chairman of the Society for the Promotion of Taiwanese Security.

Translated by Perry Svensson