For all its vaunted intrinsic value, democracy means that its outcomes cannot please everybody. Such was the case on Saturday, when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
But the end of the world is not upon us. Unlike what the more alarmist among us have argued, a KMT "return" to power is not coterminous with "death of democracy," nor does it mean that Taiwan is half a strait closer to being swallowed by China.
There are two principal reasons for this.
First, except for a small minority, the 7.6 million people who voted for Ma did so as Taiwanese and chose the KMT because they believed his campaign promises to improve the economy and defuse tensions with China. Those votes were cast with the hope that a KMT win would benefit them and Taiwan -- no one else. Voting is not an act of selflessness; when Americans vote for a candidate, they are not voting to, say, please Canada or Mexico. They think of themselves, their jobs, security and the future of their children. Taiwan is no different. While the outcome may please Beijing, Taiwanese did not vote to make China happy.
Second, those on the losing side of the aisle have not disappeared and their voices haven't suddenly been silenced. Despite Ma's big win, he and the members of his government will need to heed the fact that more than 5.4 million Taiwanese did not vote for them. If they ever forget that, they'll be in serious trouble, perhaps even earlier than four years from now.
Not for many years will the voice of the people have been as important as it will be when Ma assumes the presidency on May 20. Now that the legislative and the executive branches are under KMT control, the onus will be on them to deliver on the promises of accountable leadership they made during the campaign.
The KMT victory does not mean, as some have suggested, that the devil incarnate will step into office. In fact, in the past months Ma has increasingly sounded like a leader for Taiwanese and his party has some good people in it who can be counted on to put the interest of the nation first. These people must be encouraged.
Simultaneously, as Ma steps onto the international scene, he must be brought back into line if he is ever seen to be departing from his promises to serve the interests of Taiwan, and every effort must be made to ensure that the rotten elements in the KMT -- who are easily identifiable -- do not manipulate their victory to serve interests other than those of Taiwan.
Saturday's result was not a return to the authoritarian era, because democracy is now part of the nation's fabric -- and Ma must learn to navigate that environment. But democracy implies work. Hard work. And it imposes responsibilities that go far beyond showing up at the voting station on election day.
Ma won, so let's give him a chance to prove himself. But we'll be watching -- all of us.
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
In an unprecedented move, a group of democratic nations led by the US, UK and EU in a joint statement on Tuesday accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security of having carried out a major cyberattack earlier this year and stealing data from at least 30,000 organizations worldwide, including governments, universities and firms in key industries. Western officials were reportedly perplexed by the attack’s brazen execution and unparalleled scale. In an article on the attack, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera wrote: “Western spies are still struggling to understand why Chinese behavior has changed.” The attack raises the fear “that they [China]
At the conclusion of the G7 Leaders’ Summit on June 13, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who participated virtually, called for the reform of multilateral institutions as the best signal of commitment to the cause of open societies. His comments are significant in light of China’s ongoing and successful efforts to control international organizations, and, in particular, to keep Taiwan out of critical health agencies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s influence over the WHO is well known. It has used this control to deny Taiwan a place at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO. Taiwan’s absence