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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Taiwan’s national identity problem

Taiwan’s national identity problem

Regarding the rise of doubts in Taiwan about US military aid if China invades, I have the following response. The doubts are reasonable, assuming that a Chinese takeover is not an existential threat to Taiwanese.

It is not, though, a response I would expect to hear from a Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese or Ukrainian.

Some Taiwanese academics and politicians do not believe a Chinese takeover is a threat to Taiwanese, not because they do not believe a Chinese takeover is a possibility or a probability, but rather because they do not believe, in their hearts, that there really is such a thing as a Taiwanese people.

I have no argument against that. A person in Taiwan can go from being Taiwanese to not being Taiwanese in a heartbeat. All they have to do is change their mind. The same cannot be said for real nationalities. A Ukrainian is going to be a Ukrainian whether they think they are or not.

A Vietnamese is going to fight a Chinese takeover even if completely abandoned by the Americans. There is no such transactional nonsense like “if you do this, this and this for us, maybe we’ll think of defending ourselves.”

If this kind of attitude becomes the norm in Taiwan, the US government should not risk its people, its wealth or its reputation to defend Taiwan. Consequently, I believe it is just a matter of letting Taiwan turn itself over to China, and finding a way to do that where the whole world can see that Taiwanese chose to do so.

If not, Taiwan’s people must resolve their national identity issue and demonstrate their will to resist a foreign (Chinese) invasion. They should go to next year’s presidential election polls and elect the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate, Vice President William Lai (賴清德).

Simon H. Tang is an adjunct professor of California State University, Fullerton.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/05/03

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