Pro-independence groups on Friday held a demonstration in Taipei to call for the dismantling of the Republic of China (ROC) in favor of an independent Taiwan.
They chose that day because it marks so-called Taiwan Retrocession Day, the anniversary of when World War II allies passed control of Taiwan to former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and the ROC, then governed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Sovereign State for Formosa and the Pescadores Party Chairman Cheng Tzu-tsai (鄭自才) said this temporary handover to the KMT was a travesty for Taiwan, and called on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to abolish the ROC in favor of a Taiwanese nation and sever political links with China.
The organizers of the demonstration have a point. The ROC, as anything other than the official name of the nation, has long been an entity adrift. It is tied not to Taiwan, but to the KMT, which for decades in the postwar period had total control over Taiwan. The party no longer has control of the government or the national narrative, and Taiwan has made huge strides as a de facto independent nation. The national loyalties of Taiwanese have been distorted by the KMT, which has falsely equated Taiwan with the ROC. If any party could end this false equivalence it would have to be the DPP, as the KMT surely would not.
However, to demand that the DPP administration take this step at this point in time is too extreme a proposition. Taiwanese know this, and polls indicate that the majority oppose it.
The Mainland Affairs Council last week released a survey from National Chengchi University of people over the age of 20, asking them about their opinions on, among other things, independence, unification with China and maintaining the “status quo.”
The survey found that more than 27 percent of respondents support independence, but only a small number of them — about 6 percent — favor an immediate move in that direction.
The majority of Taiwanese do not favor unification with China. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) vision for how unification would work is the imposition of the “one country, two systems” policy that is failing in Hong Kong, and the vast majority of respondents in the poll — almost 90 percent — opposed this vision. Indeed, only 1.4 percent of respondents wanted to see immediate unification, and less than 9 percent wanted eventual unification.
More than 25 percent of respondents said that they would be happy with indefinitely maintaining the “status quo.”
For many ordinary Taiwanese, the less ideologically driven and those just going about their everyday lives, the “status quo” is working for them, and is all they know. Others might be more concerned about the prospect of military intervention by China should Taiwan declare independence, or make a drastic shift in the “status quo,” such as formally changing the nation’s title from the ROC to Taiwan.
The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is committed to maintaining the “status quo” not because it wants to, but because its hands are tied. This approach has the support of Taiwanese, if this poll’s results are at all representative. The political reality might prevent the DPP from abolishing the ROC, irrespective of how desirable or rational such a move would be, but as long as it refrains from upsetting the apple cart, the party has a chance of ensuring the continued existence of Taiwan.
Yes, the demonstration organizers have a point, but for now it would be better if they focused on ensuring the government does not fall back into the KMT’s hands.
There are few coincidences in the world of foreign diplomacy. Two days after a Japanese government donation of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Taiwan on Friday last week, a US delegation led by US senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons touched down at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) in a US military transport aircraft, which flew in from Osan Air Base in South Korea. The cross-party delegation of US senators announced that Washington would donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan in the first wave of the US Foreign Vaccine Sharing Program. Japan and the US’ vaccine donations are
As I write this in mid-June, Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) seems to be at it again, pressuring and bullying Taiwan both rhetorically and militarily. Chinese war planes have been circling Taiwan in an overtly menacing manner, the rhetoric in state-run media has been shrill and threatening, and in general the one party dictatorship on the mainland has been showing its fear and loathing of the democratic republic 90 miles east of the “People’s” Republic. This at a time when the economy on the mainland continues to be in a slump connected to the global economic decline, though there is
On Tuesday, a total of 28 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft intruded into southwestern, southern and eastern areas of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), a record number since the Ministry of National Defense began publishing PLA aircraft movements last year. Taking off from air bases on China’s east coast, 10 Shenyang J-16 multirole strike fighters, six Shenyang J-11 fighter jets and two Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft flew on a course adjacent to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) before turning back. In a separate formation, an assortment of aircraft, including heavy bombers, more J-16s, electronic warfare
NATO leaders in a communique on Monday described China as a threat to the “rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security,” marking a major change of focus for the organization. They said that China “is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal,” is “opaque” about its military modernization and is “cooperating militarily with Russia.” Following the NATO meeting in Brussels, US President Joe Biden assured the alliance that the US would honor its NATO commitments, and said that China and Russia were attempting to drive a wedge between the Washington and European allies. “I want all Europe to know that the United