Taiwan should focus on its colonial history and the issue of de-colonization, rather than the argument over independence and unification, an Australian academic told a symposium yesterday.
Bruce Jacobs, a professor at Monash University in Australia, discussed the democratization of Taiwan at a symposium held at the legislature and organized by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP Legislator Mark Chen (陳唐山), the Institute of National Defense and Strategy Research and the Association of Taiwan University Professors.
Taiwan is already an independent country and it should focus more on the study of decolonization and transitional justice, because the debate on independence and unification was pointless, Jacobs said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Citing a poll conducted at regular intervals by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center, Jacobs said that more than 90 percent of Taiwanese supported either immediate independence or maintaining the “status quo” before moving toward future independence, while less than 2 percent favored immediate unification.
“The percentage who self--identify as Taiwanese exceeded 50 percent, not during the DPP administration, but after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came into office [in 2008]. To me that’s symbolic,” he said, adding that it implied the unification-independence debate was meaningless.
Jacobs, who was the first foreign academic to research vote-buying in Taiwan for his doctoral thesis in the 1970s, said Taiwanese should instead pay attention to its colonial past.
Observing the democratization process in Taiwan, Jacobs said there had been less violence in Taiwan than in other countries, and the 15 percent to 20 percent of swing voters, who make regime change possible, had made a great contribution to democracy.
Jacobs also said that while former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) had “liberalized” Taiwanese politics, he “neither freed nor democratized” Taiwan.
“In my opinion, no Taiwanese president had democratized Taiwan until former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝),” he added.
Like many countries, Taiwan needed to go through a period of decolonization and transitional justice before finding its true identity, he said.
A declaration of independence could result in war and was not necessarily in the best interest of Taiwanese, he said, adding that official diplomatic relations with other countries are not required to develop meaningful bilateral ties.
Speaking to a group of mainly independence supporters, Jacobs said: “I might offend some of you, but I have to say that the declaration of the establishment of the Republic of Taiwan might not put your in a better situation.”
“There are only four consolidated democracies in Asia — Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. Regardless of whether you like the current administration or not, democracy is a precious asset,” he said.
Leaders in Asian authoritarian regimes, such as China and Singapore, love to stress so-called “Asian values” and says that Western democracy is not suitable for Asians, but “we all know that is not true,” former National Security Council deputy secretary-general Parris Chang (張旭成) said.
Democracy and the fight for democracy are the best weapons Taiwanese had against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime as well as Beijing today, because “both of them are afraid of democracy,” Chang said.
The Council of Agriculture yesterday signed a Taiwan-Australia Agricultural Cooperation Implementation clause to open a new export market for the nation’s pineapple crop. The clause is an addition to existing cooperation measures, it said. China on Friday last week abruptly announced that it would suspend pineapple imports from Taiwan starting on Monday, on grounds that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful organisms” in shipments of the fruit. The public and private sectors have since joined hands to purchase the local fruit to help the nation’s pineapple farmers. Canberra has requested that all pineapples for export to Australia have their crown buds removed,
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group might have lost its right to distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 and the ability to fulfill a contract in Taiwan, civic groups Taiwan Citizen Front and the Economic Democracy Union said yesterday. In a radio interview on Feb. 17, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the Central Epidemic Command Center, said that last year, Taiwan was close to signing a contract to buy doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but that the deal was halted at the last moment, with some speculating that Chinese interference was to blame. On Monday last week, the center
A Tainan taxi driver is the Taiwanese with the longest name, after he last month changed it so that it now contains 25 characters, the Anping District Household Registration Office said. The 47-year-old man, formerly known as Huang Hsin-hsiang (黃鑫翔), applied for the name change on Feb. 26, in the hope that it would bring him good luck. His new name starts with Huang Da-lan (黃大嵐) and adds another 22 characters, meaning “Huang Da-lan is the blessed darling and sweetheart of the god of joy, god of wealth, god of misfortune, god of Earth and all the gods,” it said. With
Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) yesterday said that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) “should not follow the Democratic Progressive Party’s [DPP] direction,” after KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) had said that China posed a threat to Taiwan. Chiang was quoted by Reuters as saying during an interview that China’s “one country, two systems” formula for an unification with Taiwan “has no market” in the nation. Chiang also described China as the major threat to Taiwan, Reuters reported. Jaw, who has expressed interest in running for KMT chairman this year and in the 2024 presidential election, wrote on Facebook that