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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Voting Tsai could make Taiwan a true nation

Voting Tsai could make Taiwan a true nation

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The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan has to endure the ignominy of being simultaneously watched over by the US and confined by China. The US likes to keep a close eye on Taiwan, because although Japan renounced Taiwan as a colonial territory, under the terms of the US-directed San Francisco Peace Treaty — which entered into force in 1952 and officially ended World War II in the Asia-Pacific region — Taiwan was not reassigned to any other nation. The US’ Taiwan Relations Act also contains relevant clauses, while China’s continued persistence in its claim of sovereignty over the ROC squatters on Taiwan means that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has yet to break free from China’s spell.

The US of course acts in its own national interests, so when it established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it acknowledged — but did not recognize — China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. Peace and stability in East Asia is important to the US.

Although China has been unable to alter US policy on Taiwan, Beijing concentrates all its efforts on the KMT, which no longer possesses absolute control over Taiwan. The KMT, which still seeks to retain power through the electoral process, is trying very hard to deceive the public, but a succession of former KMT officials and politicians have unscrupulously prostrated themselves at the feet of China. The KMT sees Taiwan as its personal possession to be traded off; Taiwanese should not allow them to divest Taiwan of its power. The stage on which the KMT operates is also a sacrificial altar: They are two sides of the same coin.

The public has high hopes that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) can build a new and independent Taiwan. The KMT, masquerading as China, colonized Taiwan and is bent on creating a one-party state. The two main political parties are extremely important to determining the development of Taiwan as a fully fledged state. Next year’s presidential election is set to be a decisive battle: If the DPP wins, the nation would move in a more Taiwan-centered direction, whereas if the KMT wins, the nation would continue to move in the opposite direction.

However, the threat of China’s containment and US nannying often causes the discourse and strategies of the main parties to become confused. The KMT is especially apt to stir up trouble and blur the issues where the DPP’s policies differ from its own. In particular, some DPP politicos, harboring ulterior motives, love to make irresponsible remarks, revealing a KMT-like propensity to switch political positions with chameleon-like ease. The high proportion of Taiwanese who acknowledge Taiwan is a separate nation from China are left confused; and those who wish Taiwan to gain de jure independence from China are left feeling frustrated.

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policy of maintaining the so-called “status quo” is established on the premise of Taiwan as a “sovereign and independent nation, its current name being the Republic of China.” In sticking to the KMT’s previously amended “bottom line,” Tsai is seeking to reduce the threat of external interference in next year’s legislative election. What is more important is that these conservative values are both innovative and progressive.

Aside from any future full de jure independence from China, this will enable the DPP to provide what a great number of Taiwanese long for: To belong to a normal nation. Taiwanese, in their support for the DPP — and Tsai as its presidential candidate — must unite behind the party and make the US and China acknowledge Taiwan’s basic right to self-determination.

Lee Min-yung is a poet and political commentator.

Translated by Edward Jones

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2015/04/21

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