Everybody has their own opinion on the issue of unification or independence. I would personally support whatever is good for Taiwan’s future. I cannot take catchphrases like “betraying Taiwan” or “being unified” emanating from southern Taiwan seriously, because the separation of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is real and no one will be able to change this situation in the short term. However, having observed the actions of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — someone we thought we knew — since he came to power, we are becoming increasingly suspicious and feel that we no longer understand him.
While Ma now seems to be advocating the use of simplified Chinese characters, I seem to remember that he was firmly anti-communist before his election.
Since taking office, Ma has been leaning toward the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as can be seen in many things, from his statement on the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre to his plans to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement with China.
This may be the trend of the times and Ma may not have a choice, but this does not mean that Taiwanese should learn only to recognize traditional Chinese while writing with simplified characters, because there is a thin line between this and unification — or, rather, being unified.
If this continues, it will raise serious concerns for Taiwan’s future.
In ancient China, the standard for unification included standardized wheel width for carts and a standardized script. Today, Ma is promoting simplified Chinese without receiving any goodwill from Beijing.
This is not far from unification as seen by ancient Chinese — how can we not be worried?
Certainly, Ma must believe that he is on the cutting edge, just as former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) thought history would remember him for proposing in 1995 that Taiwan “boldly go west.”
Ma seems to have forgotten that he is the nation’s leader, and that his every word and deed have direct and enormous, even lethal, impact.
Especially when a public consensus has not been reached on the matter, Ma’s proposal is almost certain to trigger a backlash.
After the DPP destroyed its own reputation, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was able to regain cities and counties in the south, but Ma’s proposal will give the DPP good leverage and affect moderate voters’ views of his stance on Taiwanese sovereignty.
As time passes, this will affect moderates’ trust in Ma. Since he plans to take over the KMT chairmanship, it is conceivable that the KMT’s advantage in the south would have been completely eroded by the time the year-end local government elections are held.
And, more importantly, many swing voters probably feel that they understand Ma less and less, and this lack of understanding is likely to create distrust. After all, a majority of voters have a bottom line regarding unification and independence — Taiwan and China can grow closer economically and culturally, but politically a clear line must be drawn.
Ma may see an acceptance of simplified Chinese characters as part of cross-strait economic and cultural exchanges, but it constitutes a form of political recognition.
If Ma insists on moving forward before people’s doubts have been dispelled, he would be wise to stay north of the Chuoshui River (濁水溪).
Li Kuan-long is a lecturer at the Kaohsiung campus of Shih Chien University.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his