On April 21, Chinese Unity Promotion Party (CUPP) founder Chang An-le (張安樂), also known as the White Wolf, gave a talk as part of a lecture on “Contemporary Taiwanese political development” at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Si Wan College. He was invited by assistant professor Chen Shih-yueh (陳世岳).
After the lecture, university authorities immediately issued a statement that Chen had “brought the academic profession into disrepute” and “abused the university’s pedagogical freedoms,” and issued a public apology.
Some observers have accused the school of encroaching upon the freedoms of its teaching staff, and that its stance runs counter to the goal of university education to expose students to a diverse range of opinions, values and ideas. I disagree.
The dispute does not concern the CUPP’s support for unification with China, nor is it because Chang was a former Bamboo Union gang leader. Instead, the controversy centers around the fundamental nature of the CUPP.
Debate over whether advocation of unification with China should fall within the bounds of freedom of speech is nothing new. Many local political parties support such a stance, including the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the New Party and the Labor Party. Almost all pro-unification parties are accomplices to Beijing’s “united front” strategy in Taiwan, and the CUPP is no exception.
A Chinese Communist Party (CCP) proxies bill is working its way through the legislative review process, but whether it should be legal for parties “openly colluding with a foreign hostile adversary and assisting the enemy with infiltration, organization and other activities within the nation’s borders” is beyond the scope of this article.
However, although the aforementioned parties support unification, none of them operate like the CUPP, which receives financial support from the CCP to carry out infiltration and united front work in Taiwan.
The CUPP unscrupulously employs violence against people whose positions conflict with the party’s aims, including Hong Kong dissidents living in Taiwan and Falun Gong practitioners.
In one notorious incident in 2017, Hu Ta-kang (胡大剛) and other CUPP members used metal rods to attack students and protesters outside the “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival at National Taiwan University.
Although the CUPP is legally registered, with its track record of using violence, funding from the CCP and threats that endanger national security, it can never be integrated into a democratic society and is an abnormal political organization.
It goes without saying that the protection of free speech should include the right to call for unification. However, free speech and academic freedom should not be distorted to give criminal organizations a mouthpiece to preach violence, and promoting violence is not part of the diverse values that universities should be seeking to foster on campus.
Where to set the limits and boundaries of free speech is a question that Taiwanese society can no longer afford to duck.
Alex Huang is a postgraduate student at National Sun Yat-sen University.
Translated by Edward Jones
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