Hardly a week goes by nowadays without farmers, environmentalists, unions and rights activists petitioning the central government over issues of corporate predation upon the land and the individual. While every instance could be looked upon as isolated and unrelated, their frequency in the past two years means that one cannot help but see a trend.
It would be easy to blame President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for all the ills that have befallen the workers in this country or the inhabitants of areas that are to be destroyed to make room for industrial projects. However, the problem is a more fundamental one, one that has deeper roots than the policies of a single administration. The answers and solutions, if ever we find them, will only emerge when people and organizations that purport to fight for freedom and justice in Taiwan themselves stop exploiting those who work for them.
Sometimes this hits so close to home that we don’t even see it.
One need not turn to forced evictions to see what’s going on. In recent years, too many young educated Taiwanese have struggled to find employment with a wage that enables them to raise a family, let alone buy a home. At the same time, entire neighborhoods, with municipal sanction, are facing the prospect of being razed to make room for new residential buildings that, once they are built, will be well beyond the financial reach not only of new workplace entrants, but to the previous residents as well. Far too often, those new buildings remain empty, totems of financial speculation that only the rich can afford.
The growing injustice in Taiwan isn’t simply an abstract idea: There are signs of it all around us, and no matter who it affects — from the young graduates who despair at the pitiful salary offered by their first employer to the farmers whose land is stolen through expropriation — each case is a form of violence against the individual. Although one cannot solely fault the government for this situation, it nevertheless creates the conditions that make it possible for the powerful to exploit the weak.
Those are issues that need to be raised and debated as we head into the legislative and presidential elections in January. Neither party has done this yet.
Whether Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is too beholden to autocrats that it can’t reverse course on exploitation remains to be seen. As for the Democratic Progressive Party, it will have to go beyond the usual vapid slogans and clearly articulate an alternative policy for national development that is just and avoids government-sanctioned theft of private property. Call this development with a heart, or a road to modernity minus the bulldozers and police contingents.
The role of China in all this is also something politicians will have to look into. While it is still too early to fully comprehend the impact of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), there already is every indication that the so-called “benefits” of the pact have been largely felt by the corporate elite.
As the ECFA is a work in progress, the possibility that this imbalance will be exacerbated cannot be ignored. For one, the benefits could be exploited as “sticks” and “carrots” to reward those who favor it, while punishing those who, for various reasons, don’t.
What is happening in Taiwan isn’t as dramatic as the forced eviction of 1.4 million Chinese for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. That said, in the aggregate, all the greed-driven injustices perpetrated against Taiwan’s disenfranchised farmers and landowners, workers and young graduates, is no less serious. Injustice isn’t mere statistics. It is a cold, hard reality and it must be stopped lest it continues to spread.
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