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The people are Taiwan's best hope in China face-off

Publication Date : 21-02-2014


The politicians of Taiwan may blare out what they like regarding the island's political status and relationship with mainland China, but the Taiwanese are good and tired of the tug-o-war going on between two sides that are smiling daggers at each other, Taiwan meting out each statement with baited breath, all for the glorious advantage of being the one and only China the world recognises.

With the very old and weary threat of several thousand missiles pointing across the strait, Taiwan has been in a stalemate since the '70s and may very well be stranded in it forever. This pessimistic outlook can be blamed on the always-ambiguous status quo that is not entirely the fault of the pan-blue coalition, as much as the greens would like it to be. In Chinese, the saying “beating an egg against a rock” shows what would inevitably happen to Taiwan - as the egg - when it tries to fight an impossible battle against its powerful neighbor. Outnumbered by a gargantuan population, which in turn spawns unquestioning followers, a strong army and potential customers that the world tries to engage in trade, what can Taiwan do but cower?

Despite its discharge from the United Nations, Taiwan is a nation in all aspects but name. The Republic of China met the major criteria for a sovereign state in aspects that matter mostly to its people. The ROC rules over an internationally recognised space or territory; it is home to a people living there on an ongoing basis; it has an organised (indeed, worldly renowned) economy; it issues own currency and regulates foreign and domestic trade; it owns the power of social engineering; it has a transportation system for moving goods and people; and it has a government that provides public services, police power and functioning armed forces. The key problem for the ROC's claim to sovereignty concerns mainly matters in name and perception: the ROC is in six-decade dispute over the sovereignty of most of its territories with Beijing; and that it lacks formal recognition by most of the world's nations and international organisations such as the UN.

No matter how Taiwanese politicians tried to glorify the situation, no one holds the delusion that Taipei and Beijing are entering the “one China debate” on equal status. Taiwan is no doubt shadowed by Beijing's economic potential and military strength; it is a trading partner to be reckoned with and a force to be feared. Even the United States, with its vow to come to Taipei's aid in times of regional conflict, approach the cross-strait issue mostly with China in mind. Taiwan is of lesser concern and should stay so until the missiles zone in; it has not enough allies. And Beijing is no doubt biding its time for Taiwan to succumb.

In the lack of real ability to change the situation, politicians from the ruling and the opposition parties are still splitting hair over their differences on minor details instead of concentrating on things that offer direct aid to Taiwan's progress. But it is no longer a time for the Taiwanese to be polarised. Our political leaders should reconsider its stance when over 75 per cent of people now regard themselves as Taiwanese, and Taiwan as their home nation. Politicians are quick to use that nationalism for their benefits but are not doing enough to actually protecting the nation and its people.

Taiwan is a small nation and it is facing a huge challenge. But that does not mean it has no hope to prevail and preserve the free and democratic spirit this nation has nurtured. While annexation and independence are not viable options, but Taiwan can strife for a gradual and determined exchange with China in order to change the communist nation itself.

The true hopelessness lies not in the difficulty of the situation. Taiwan, after all, has faced the mainland Chinese government for sixty years and its people never lose hear. The true hopelessness lies in the indifference of the Taiwanese leaders who do not seem even interested to inspire the nation to face this challenge. The public has legitimately doubt that their politicians are pushing for open cross-strait policies not for the good of democracy but for their own good. That they are more invested in their own survival and prosperity than in the future of Taiwan as a free nation.

As Taiwan is gearing up for a series of major elections in the end of the year, the people should realise they are not just electing the next wave of local leaders. The people should let it be known that they demand leaders who are willing to do whatever it takes - including fighting or working with Beijing - to create the biggest possibility for survival of the democracy that is Taiwan.


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