The recently concluded visit of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) exposed the danger of the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s attempt to merge “two distinctively different civilizations and the fragility of Taiwan’s democracy and civic society,” panelists at a symposium said yesterday.
“Never think that the tragedy of the 228 Incident cannot happen in the 21st century,” retired National Taiwan University professor Kenneth Lin (林向愷) told the symposium, organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors.
The brutal massacre in 1947 — which was violently suppressed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, wiping out almost an entire generation of Taiwanese elites — was a clash of two civilizations, Taiwan and China, Lin said, adding that they were forcibly merged by the KMT regime.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Reviewing the Ma administration’s handling of a series of protests against Zhang, Lin said that while most people had great expectations about the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) three years ago, many now realize that “ordinary people are not in the winner’s circle in terms of cross-strait economic integration.”
“With growing Chinese influences of their lives, people realize that the economic and political systems across the Taiwan Strait are so different that they could not possibly be integrated. This mentality was shown in the increase in the number of people who upheld the ‘refusal of unification’ after Ma took office in 2008,” Lin added.
Ma would be making a grave mistake if he has not sensed the changing political climate in Taiwan, as most participants in the protests during visits by former Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Straits chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) were senior citizens, but the majority of protesters in the past week were young people, the professor said.
“What I saw was the fragility of Taiwan’s democracy and civil society,” Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), head of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan History at National Chengchi University, said about the aftermath of Zhang’s visit, which saw public discussion focused on the “courtesy and hospitality” of the nation.
Many analysts and politicians concluded that while the motivations behind the protests were just, the means were questionable because they violated Taiwanese tradition.
The issues in question were neither about courtesy nor hospitality, but the state apparatus’ abuse of power and violation of the constitutionally protected right of expression, Hsueh said.
“Saying that the ‘excessive protests’ jeopardized Taiwan’s image is as illogical as talking about free trade with China — an abnormal free economic system from head to toe,” Hsueh said.
“To me, Zhang was anything but a guest. He was an aggressor with a smile on his face,” said Yen Ming-wei (顏銘緯), a high-school graduate who participated in protests in Greater Kaohsiung.
Dennis Wei (魏揚), a student at National Tsing Hua University who was arrested during a protest in New Taipei City, agreed, saying that the discussion of politeness reflected that Taiwan’s democratic movement should be deepened and strengthened.
Wei expressed his “unsurprising disappointment” in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which chose not to organize any protests this time, urging the party to “be clear with its China policy and positions.”
The DPP’s position on several issues, including the proposed free economic pilot zones and the cross-strait service trade agreement, have been vague, but “[the DPP] could not expect to win more votes by its eclecticism,” Wei said.
“The simple fact that students and young people were left protesting on the street alone means that the DPP has not been doing its job and has not worked hard enough,” Wei said.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South