Parties must be Taiwan-centric and collaborate
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times 2018.11.6

One important aspect of democracy is the peaceful transition of power through democratic elections. After three transfers of government, Taiwan’s democracy stands up to scrutiny. It is something to be proud of and it is acknowledged by Western countries.

However, living in Taiwan, I worry at every election because of a major difference between Taiwan and Western countries: the huge divide on national identity.

Every party in the US recognizes the US as their country. Even in Ukraine, the main difference is between pro-Russian and pro-Western factions.

By contrast, Taiwan’s political parties are either Taiwan-centered or identify with authoritarian China, as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) does. Although the KMT claims that they identify with the Republic of China, every party chairperson visits Beijing to pay tribute to the Chinese president.

Even though former president and former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not go there as chairman, he did meet with the Chinese president in a third country during his presidency, but failed to mention the name of his own country.

Since former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who lifted the bans on independent newspapers and political parties, and his successor, Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Taiwanese democracy has advanced, bringing the Taiwan-centered Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to power.

However, after Ma took office in 2008, Taiwan backslid, with authorities settling political scores with Taiwan-centered political groups and inclining toward China. Had it not been for the Sunflower movement, Taiwan might already have been partly or even fully colonized by China.

This sense of crisis is difficult for Western nations to comprehend, just as it is difficult for them to understand how severely Taiwanese democracy has been eroded by the KMT’s ill-gotten party assets and the 18 percent preferential savings rate, because they have never had similar problems.

Now that the US has discovered the extent of China’s infiltration in the US, it will understand that China’s infiltration of Taiwan is even more severe.

As the Chinese fifth column is waving flags and shouting slogans in the streets, in effect setting up a Chinese beachhead in Taiwan, the government’s response is barely satisfactory.

Although the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections are local elections, they will affect the 2020 presidential election. The KMT is using various tricks to obscure facts and mislead the public. For example, it fakes poll results to erode confidence in the DPP and the government.

Meanwhile, China is finding ways to intervene, in particular by using the Internet to spread fake news, which is then disseminated by its agents in Taiwan.

Given these circumstances, Taiwanese voters should heighten their vigilance, analyze election-related statements and incidents, and take the time to reflect rather than simply act on impulse.

China’s ascendance, the opening of Taiwan to the enemy during the eight years of the Ma-led KMT administration and the KMT’s current fight for survival pose a much greater challenge to the current administration than was faced by any previous administration.

The DPP is also internally divided between radical and moderate factions. These factions must work together, lest the party identifying with authoritarian China regain power and lead Taiwan to its destruction.

Only if the domestic divide on national identity is bridged and all political parties become pro-Taiwanese can the DPP consider splitting into two parties competing for government power. That is the only way to consolidate Taiwan’s democracy.

Paul Lin is a senior political commentator.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming


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