The Liberty Times Editorial: ‘Civil war’ to decide Taiwan’s fate

Fri, Oct 06, 2017 - Page 8

In July, the Cabinet approved a draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) stipulating that high-ranking military officers and civil servants are not allowed within 15 years after their retirement to take part in celebratory events or other political activities presided over by China’s leaders, or to salute flags, emblems or songs that represent China, or sing or recite the words of such songs.

For those who break this rule, the amendment stipulates that a certain portion of their monthly pension payments may be deducted for a period of five years. For those deemed to have committed serious infractions, their monthly pension payments may be canceled permanently, starting from the date on which their banned behavior took place.

Apart from the Cabinet’s draft amendment, many legislators have made other proposals, but so far the legislature has not discussed or approved any of them.

Meanwhile, the disturbance at the “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival” on National Taiwan University’s campus on Sept. 24 exposed the problem of China’s use of gangsters to oppose Taiwanese independence and promote unification. Apart from carrying out police raids against gangs, Taiwan must act swiftly to close the legal loopholes they have been using. Taiwan’s democratic process really needs to move faster and get things done.

Two days after the incident at the music festival, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) held a news conference, saying that some people acting under the guise of political groups are carrying out the mission of destabilizing Taiwan on behalf of China, but they cannot be charged with the offense of treason under the Criminal Code.

Wang said that when Taiwanese commit offenses related to the chapter of the Criminal Code that concerns treason, they can only be prosecuted under the National Security Act (國家安全法) or the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法). This means that even if retired high-ranking military officers build spy networks for China, they can only be prosecuted under the National Security Act, which imposes relatively light penalties.

The articles of the Criminal Code concerning the offense of treason are limited to what it calls “foreign states” and “enemy states,” and are thus hemmed in by the controversy over the national status of China and “our side,” as a result of which these articles are often found to be inapplicable.

Wang said that the wording of the Criminal Code should be changed from “enemy state” to “enemy,” in line with the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法), and that a new article 115-1 should be added to the Criminal Code defining “enemy” as “any country or organization that engages in or whose force confronts the Republic of China,” which is the wording used in Article 10 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces. However, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has blocked all such draft amendments time and again.

Taiwan’s inability to take effective action over treason reflects the tangled question of its national status. Answering legislators’ questions on Tuesday last week, Premier William Lai (賴清德) openly said that he is “a political worker who supports Taiwan independence” and that “Taiwan is a sovereign independent state.”

However, the New Party said it would take Lai to court for the offense of civil disturbance and submit a complaint about him to the Control Yuan. The New Party has taken the view that, as of now, the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution still defines the sovereignty of the ROC as including “the Taiwan area and the mainland area,” and for Lai, as the ROC’s highest executive official, to take it upon himself to change the status of the state contravenes the Constitution and related laws and regulations by separating Taiwan from the sovereignty of the ROC.

In the past, some in the DPP have also put forward the view that the Constitution represents a kind of constitutional “one China.” Would it not be ironic if maintaining “the existing ROC constitutional order” continues to cause clashes of identity and political disorder in Taiwan?

Some people call October “glorious” because there are so many public holidays in the month, but October also carries echoes of the historical conflict between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Even though most people in Taiwan see things from a Taiwanese point of view, some are still caught up between the conflicting views of China as the “motherland” and the “enemy country.”

Every October, a drama is played out between the alternative viewpoints that “the ROC’s sovereignty covers the Taiwan area and the mainland area” (ROC 1.0) and “Taiwan is a sovereign nation whose name is the ROC” (ROC 2.0), with each side expressing its own viewpoint and slamming those of the other.

These two schools of thought attach very different meanings to the words “Republic of China,” and they also do very different things. ROC 2.0 tendencies embody a new stage in Taiwan’s democratic evolution, while ROC 1.0 seamlessly connects with Beijing’s idea that “the mainland and Taiwan both belong to one China.” Pro-China unificationists in Taiwan act in tandem with the “enemy state,” using the ROC 1.0 system as a shield to solemnly and legally challenge the democratically structured ROC 2.0.

For the “enemy state” on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, ROC 1.0 and ROC 2.0 are targets for eventual destruction. In the past, when the Taiwan-centric trend had not yet surpassed 50 percent of public opinion and it was still possible to imagine government power alternating between the KMT and the DPP, the objectively existing ROC 2.0 might have been something that both political camps could accept, but following last year’s political sea change, the animosity between ROC 1.0 and ROC 2.0 has deepened, with frustrated politicians, retired generals, Chinese spies and gangsters using legal facades to conceal their illegal activities as they take up their respective positions to serve the “enemy state.”

All efforts to safeguard ROC 2.0 through identity cohesion, institutional reforms and national defense preparedness are always met with opposition for opposition’s sake in the legislature, while China’s five-star red flag has become a new street weapon. These things expose the fraudulent nature of those who oppose Taiwanese independence and support unification with China when they claim to be “safeguarding the ROC.” What they really are is a “fifth column” for China to annex Taiwan, but some members of this group still enjoy generous monthly pension payments and health insurance benefits.

Oct. 1 is the People’s Republic of China’s National Day and Oct. 10 is the ROC’s. These competing national days used to embody tense confrontation between the KMT and the CCP, but the ice has thawed in the process of Taiwan’s democratization. That old conflict has been replaced by a state of “civil war” within the ROC. This “civil war” involves supporters of unification with China, who have gone from waging civil war with the CCP to collaborating with it. These people do all they can to harass Taiwan, sparking a war without gun smoke in this nation.

The confederation of forces aligned with ROC 2.0 need to make good use of the rule of law and clever strategy, helping themselves and seeking help from others, to achieve the goal of winning the war on two fronts — at home and overseas. If they can do that, they really can return Taiwan to its rightful owners.

Translated by Julian Clegg