As a second-generation Mainlander, I was taught by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to be patriotic and proud of the fact I was Chinese. However, as a result of the democratization of Taiwan and my experience of studying overseas, I now have a totally different view of China.
Throughout the course of many conversations with Chinese friends I have come to realize that many members of China's intellectual elite do not favor democracy and even despise it. Some of them are rather pessimistic about Taiwan's democratization.
Some of these Chinese intellectuals apparently believe that Taiwan is a laughing stock in the eyes of the world, as its democracy is so chaotic.
I was once shocked when a Chinese friend told me that "the Chinese are too slavish too adapt to a democratic system." What stunned me was not his view on the Chinese people, but the fact that he no longer believed that I -- being from Taiwan -- was "Chinese." His sentiments underline the absurdity of China's ongoing attempts to marginalize Taiwan.
Whether Taiwan is perceived by the rest of the world to be a laughing stock is not for Beijing to decide.
In Germany, the Bertelsmann Foundation recently released next year's Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI), which deals with the quality of political leadership.
In terms of transformation progress, the 2006 BTI results indicate that Taiwan ranked first in Asia, and ranked fourth in the world, rising from eighth in 2003. In the government competence category, the nation ranked first in Asia, and ranked fifth internationally, up from 11th in 2003. Due to Taiwan's excellent performance in every category, it is widely regarded as a success story among nations in transition.
Meanwhile, China was placed in 85th position this year, down from 77th last year in terms of its transformation progress. In government competence, it plunged to 70th this year from 55th last year.
According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2005-2006, Taiwan ranked first in Asia in the growth competitiveness index. Compared with the rest of the world, Taiwan ranked fifth in this index. Meanwhile, China dropped to 49th from 46th.
Additionally, the World Competitiveness Yearbook, issued by the International Institute for Management Development of Switzerland, moved Taiwan up one place to 11th position while China dropped to 31st position from 24th.
Taiwan also ranked 32nd among 159 countries surveyed in Transparency International's 2005 Corruption Perception Index, up three notches from last year while China dropped to 78th from 71st.
According to Reporters Without Borders' 2005 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Taiwan occupies 51st spot, up nine notches from last year's survey while China ranked 159th among a total of 167 nations.
Although I agree that Taiwan's democratic development is far from mature and there is still a lot of room for improvement. It seems that the latest statistics released by international organizations all see Taiwan, the so-called "laughing stock" of the Chinese, from a different perspective.
Some believe that it was the KMT that gave the nation a solid foundation. If that is the case, how do we interpret the nation's improved performance in every aspect over the last few years when Taiwan's democratic system has allegedly been in chaos?
I can tolerate those "Chinese" who refuse to acknowledge Taiwan's democratic achievements, but the international community does not see eye-to-eye with them. They still seem to have found the nation progressive in almost every aspect.
Su Ching-lun is the director of the University of Rhode Island Taiwan Student Association.
TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG
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