Thursday, June 17, 2004

Independence for Me but not for Thee

Independence for Me but not for Thee
Bevin Chu
June 16, 2004

Executive Summary: Several years ago, New Party legislator Fu Kuen-chen appeared on a TV talk show with Democratic Progressive Party legislator Lin Cho-shui. Fu, a highly respected international law expert educated at the University of Virginia, confronted Lin, a rabidly Sinophobic Taiwan independence hardliner. Fu pointed out that if Taiwan independence secessionists genuinely believed the justifications they cited for political independence from China, then they were obligated to honor similar demands for political independence from Taiwan. If Lin and his cohorts denied such demands, they forfeited the right to secede from China. How did Lin respond? Lin assured Fu that Taiwan independence leaders, being liberal idealists, would allow anyone who wanted to secede from Taiwan to do so.

In other words, Lin lied.

Time Will Tell

Years have passed, and the proof that Lin lied is clear for all to see.

The proof that Lin lied is contained within the following news reports, one from Singapore's Straits Times, the other from Agence France-Presse.

The Straits Times Interactive, June 16, 2004
Chen crushes "republic" of aborigines
by Lawrence Chung

Taipei forcibly evicts hundreds who settled on leased government land as their "country within a country"

TAIPEI - President Chen Shui-bian, widely believed to want independence for Taiwan, has, ironically, denied the same to a group who are the original Taiwanese - the aborigines.

His government, on learning that hundreds of them have formed their own "Kaosha Republic," ordered a crackdown, sending in 500 armed police to disperse them from a site they have claimed as the seat of their republic. The police raided the 6ha site in southern Kaohsiung county early yesterday, ordering the inhabitants to evacuate before four bulldozers tore down the more than 270 illegal structures.

The residents claimed they had been tricked by Chen aides, who had told them that if they supported his re-election, their "republic" would be legalised and they could each get a small piece of land.

"A-Bian told us he would establish 'country within country' relations with the aborigines if we voted for him," said Mr Tang Chao-cheng, a self-proclaimed "Speaker" of the "Taiwan People Parliament."

"Now that he got his second term, he no longer cares whether we are alive or dead," said Mr Tang.

The angry residents tried to block the bulldozers and had to be forcibly removed from the scene.

"Give me back my home. We have no place to go," cried an elderly woman.

[The] Kaosha Republic... had its own flag and anthem, and a temporary government and parliament.

Israeli Army bulldozes Palestinian Homes, Palestinian Youth runs from Bulldozed Home

Police dismantle aboriginal 'republic'
2004-06-16, Agence France-Presse

Police clashed with aboriginal people yesterday when they tore down a complex of makeshift wooden houses where the ethnic islanders had founded a self-proclaimed independent state. In a pre-dawn blitz, hundreds of riot police armed with four bulldozers moved in on the so-called "Kaosha Republic" created last year by hundreds of aboriginal people in Kaohsiung county. The residents clashed with police as they attempted to stop the 270 homes being pulled down.

"We have no place to live. We have no money to rent a house," a woman said in tears as she saw her home being destroyed.

Several angry protesters burnt the election flag of President Chen Shui-bian.

"What is the government for? It has not taken care of the aboriginal people, has it?"

To vent their anger, the residents spat on a huge photo featuring Chen.

I Told You So

Chinese Community Forum was a highly active but now defunct online electronic forum, established by overseas Chinese scholars, devoted to issues of importance to Chinese intellectuals the world over.

In January and February 1999 I posted two articles at CCF, "Taiwan Independence, Objection Sustained," and "Rebuttal to a Taiwan Independence Fellow Traveler." In them I predicted that Taiwan's Quisling nomenklatura would hypocritically refuse to grant others the same right to political secession that they so righteously demanded from Beijing.

In "Taiwan Independence, Objection Sustained," I predicted that:

Having secured their independence, Taiwan secessionists would compel any unwilling minority within the boundary which voted against independence to accept the pro-independence outcome, by force if necessary.

I posited a hypothetical string of events, that went like this:

One: Beijing finds itself temporarily distracted by a crisis in Xinjiang or Xizhang. Taiwan independence elements seize the opportunity to establish a "Republic of Taiwan."

Two: Loyalist elements in northern Taiwan counter the Taiwan independence move by holding an identical "national referendum," open only to those inside a new boundary line they have drawn up around metropolitan Taipei, where opposition to Taiwan independence is most heavily concentrated.

Three: They successfully establish a loyalist "Chinese Republic," an unhappy minority of pro-Taiwan independence voters inside this new "Chinese Republic" is outvoted.

Four: Elements of the Hakka minority and the Nine Aboriginal Tribes, formerly content to be part of a tolerant, multicultural China, are now wary of a Minnan-dominated "Republic of Taiwan." Each establishes its own nation, carving up this offshore island of China into ten more "sovereign republics."

Five: Initially triumphant but now stymied Taiwan independence plotters, having finally realized their cherished "Taiwan Dream" after four decades of scheming, have two ways to respond.

Response A: They recognize the right of the eleven new republics to do exactly what they themselves just did. They sit by and watch idly as their newly founded "Republic of Taiwan" breaks apart before their very eyes.

Response B: They invade Taipei to prevent "splittism," Beijing's term for separatism. They do exactly what they condemn Beijing for threatening to do if Taiwan declares independence, resort to military force to preserve national unity.

What do they do?

No one familiar with the mindset of militant DPP and TAIP secessionists can have any illusions about what their response would be. It is not as if they haven't made their unalloyed fanaticism perfectly clear in public debates on Taiwan television talk shows. It should be clear now that Taiwan independence advocates have no right to complain when Beijing adopts the very same policies they would if the unity of a "Republic of Taiwan" were threatened by secessionist movements.

Taiwan Independence, Objection Sustained

In "Rebuttal to a Taiwan Independence Fellow Traveler," I wrote:

The "right to self-determination" is a double-edged sword. If Mr. Walsh wishes to invoke it, he had better be prepared to accept its implications in full. He cannot restrict its application only to regimes he personally approves of. Otherwise he is merely arguing that what's good for the goose is not good for the gander. A principled defense of the right to self-determination would authorize ever smaller political entities to secede from whatever political entity they currently belong to, stopping only at the level of the individual citizen. This means, theoretically at least, every property owner on earth would be legally and morally entitled to hold a "national" referendum, with himself as the sole voter, declare his own private plot of land a sovereign republic, and refuse to pay taxes to the nation, the state or province, the city or county in which he (formerly) resided. Not surprisingly, no government on earth is willing do more than pay hypocritical lip service to the concept.

As a libertarian and borderline anarchist I assure Mr. Walsh I on the other hand, have no objection whatsoever to such a global scenario. If this were what secessionists the world over actually advocated, I would be ecstatic.

But this is not what they want. What they want are merely smaller -- but not freer -- tribalist collectives tailored to suit their personal ethnic prejudices. Woe to any genuine liberty loving individualists unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in such "independent republics." They can look forward to being treated the way German Jews were treated by the Nazis, or the way ethnic Chinese-Indonesians are treated by rabid Indonesian bigots.

Rebuttal to a Taiwan Independence Fellow Traveler

Taiwan Independence, Fake vs. Real

Ben tu hua is usually translated as "nativization," or more euphemistically as "localization." Ben tu hua is an article of faith for Taiwan independence fundamentalists. It is also a code word for "qu zhong guo hua" or "desinicization."

Most Taiwan independence supporters are Minnan-speaking Han Chinese. They migrated from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou in southern Fujian province to China's offshore province of Taiwan over the past several centuries. The culture they brought over with them is mainstream Han Chinese culture. For them to shrilly demand desinicization is a joke without a punchline.

Taiwan's true natives, the aborigines, constitute roughly 2% of the island's population. They arrived on Taiwan during prehistoric times, an estimated 10,000 years ago. Taiwan's aborigines are the only people on Taiwan qualified to demand "nativization."

A genuinely localized, nativized, desinicized, politically independent "Republic of Taiwan" would require the repatriation of Minnan-speaking Han Chinese to mainland China, and the restoration of the land to Taiwan's aborigines. That would be true "ben tu hua."

As I have struggled to convey for years, Taiwan independence has never been an intellectually rigorous political movement. Coherent thought has never been the Taiwan independence fundamentalist's strong suit.

No One is Gloating

Fast forward to June 16, 2004. What is self-styled "Son of Taiwan" Chen Shui-bian doing? He is applying overwhelming force to prevent the only authentic "Taiwanese" on the island from achieving true "Taiwan independence." He is driving them off their own land with his jack-booted thugs, then leveling their homes with bulldozers a la Ariel Sharon.

Keep this in mind as you wade through the mendacious rationalizations for Taiwan independence, so-called, served up by Taiwan independence mouthpieces such as the Taipei Times and the Taiwan News.

Being proved right is not necessarily a gratifying experience. Being proved right when one's predictions are that justice will prevail can be immensely gratifying.

Being proved right when one's predictions are that injustice will persist, is deeply discouraging. Anyone who is not a misanthropist would much rather be proved wrong.

So it has been with uncannily accurate predictions by Fu Kuen-chen and myself concerning Taiwan's Quisling nomenklatura. We knew they would Do the Wrong Thing, and lo and behold, they did.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Taiwan Independence, Immoral and Impractical

Taiwan Independence, Immoral and Impractical
Bevin Chu
June 08, 2004

Taiwan Independence is Immoral

Taiwan independence is immoral. Taiwan independence is motivated not by a love of "freedom and democracy," but by an obsessive hatred of "the other." Taiwan independence candidates win votes not by implementing progressive reforms, but by inciting ethnic hatred. As former DPP Public Relations Director Sisy Chen observed, "The Democratic Progressive Party is the Ku Klux Klan of Taiwan." This darkness at the heart of Taiwan independence constitutes an irredeemable moral defect. It exposes the high-minded justifications for Taiwan independence as hollow impostures, and nullifies the Taiwan independence movement's claims to the moral high ground.

Taiwan Independence is Impractical

Taiwan independence is impractical, for the same reason it is immoral. It is impractical because the Taiwan independence leadership's irrational bigotry compels it to act in defiance of the rational self-interest of 23 million Chinese on Taiwan. The Taiwan independence nomenklatura's monomaniacal preoccupation with identity politics and nation building invariably leads it to "cut off its nose to spite its face."

Consider this recent bombshell, set off by the American Chamber of Commerce Taipei, and reported by the China Post.

Taiwan Risks Becoming Irrelevant: AmCham
By Jane Rickards
China Post, June 2, 2004

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei warned yesterday that Taiwan must open direct transport links with [mainland] China or risk losing its status as one of the region's key economic players. In its 2004 Taiwan White Paper, the chamber said closer economic ties with [mainland] China were crucial to the island's future competitiveness.

"Increasingly it is the quality and the variety of links across the Taiwan Strait that for multinational companies determine whether Taiwan will remain an important economic player. Taiwan's proximity to [mainland] China must be embraced as an economic strength and not just guarded against as a political risk." said AmCham President Andrea Wu.

Taiwan needed to protect its own security, but if Taiwan became more powerful economically, other countries would be more likely to concern themselves with Taiwan's security issues.

Restrictions on the flow of people, good and capital across the Taiwan Strait diluted Taiwan's attractiveness as a hub which could form a springboard into regional markets.

"Without the links Taiwan's plans to develop the island as a regional hub are also in jeopardy."

Taiwan might be geographically close to [mainland] China but the increased time and expense caused by the lack of direct transport links had already become a serious impediment to business and was forcing many multinational companies to relocate Greater China Operations from Taipei to Hong Kong, Singapore or Shanghai.

"A position on a map means little if goods and people have to take circuitous routes to reach their destination... it has moved from being a travel schedule annoyance primarily for CEOs to a major time and cost factor for top and middle managers of [companies of] all sizes."

The absence of links also tarnished Taiwan's international business image, symbolizing Taiwan's self-isolation from [mainland] China and daily reminding local and international business people that the government was acting to hinder, not facilitate business operations.

AmCham Chairman Richard Vuylsteke pointed out that if Taiwan was to be a regional hub, it would need to be a major location for conferences meetings and training, yet visa and work-permit restrictions were restricting technically-skilled and professional Chinese from working in Taiwan.

"The interesting thing is that meetings, conferences and training, which all should be heavy-duty activities here... are declining in number because companies big and small, have got PRC nationals or Indians or Filippinos working for them. If they can't get visas here, they go someplace else. Or they train someplace else."

Living in Denial

Taiwan independence leaders know what they must do to look after the economic well-being of 23 million Chinese on Taiwan. God knows they ought to.

AmCham just told them what they must do. AmCham has been telling them what they must do for the past five years, since the release of AmCham's first annual "Business Confidence Survey" in 1999.

If that isn't enough, the New Party has been telling them what they must do for the past ten years, since it was founded in 1993.

How have Taiwan independence leaders responded?

They threw fits of apoplexy. They called the idealistic New Party "wai sheng zhu" (mainlander pigs), "zhong gong dai yan ren." (Chi-Com mouthpieces), and "zhong gong tong lu ren" (Chi-Com fellow travelers). They accused the New Party of "shi bai zhu yi" (defeatism), of "chang shuai tai wan" (poor-mouthing Taiwan), and of "bu ai tai wan" (not loving Taiwan).

In past years AmCham, concerned about offending the ruling Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian administrations, worded its solemn advice in exceedingly diplomatic terms.

Not this year. This year AmCham issued an ultimatum. This year AmCham in essence gave notice to the Chen administration,

"You'd better wise up, or we're out of here. This is your final warning."

How did Taiwan independence leaders respond?

Taiwan independence leaders, with exasperating predictability, shined everyone on.

Yan Ching-chang, Chen administration representative to the WTO, breezily dismissed AmCham's report. Yan accused anyone who believed Taiwan would marginalize itself if it refused to establish direct links with the Chinese mainland of "lacking self-confidence."

AmCham, as in years past, found itself talking to a brick wall.

Identity Politics Uber Alles

Why do Taiwan independence leaders refuse to listen? More importantly, why do they refuse to act?

Taiwan independence leaders refuse to listen or act because they have decided in advance they're going to redefine themselves as "Taiwanese, not Chinese," all other considerations be damned.

Taiwan independence leaders refuse to listen or act because the mere thought that reunification with "Chinese" on the mainland might be in the best interests of "Taiwanese" on Taiwan overwhelms them with disgust.

Taiwan independence leaders refuse to listen or act because like ostrichs with their heads in the sand, they are hoping their self-created dilemma will magically go away.

Reality Bites

Ever closer economic links between culturally dissimilar, politically unrelated nations do not necessarily foreshadow political integration. Ever closer economic links between the US and Japan for example, hardly imply that the US and Japan are about to form some novel political union.

Ever closer economic links between political entities such as East and West Germany, North and South Korea, or Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, on the other hand, most emphatically do imply eventual political reintegration.

Taiwan's economic survival necessitates ever closer, ever more direct cross-straits links. Without them, Taiwan is doomed.

Unfortunately for Taiwan independence zealots, closer, more direct cross-straits links are anathema to their politics of hate. Most Chinese on Taiwan emigrated from southern Fujian during the Qing dynasty. Close contact with Minan dialect-speaking Chinese from southern Fujian would quickly discredit the Taiwan independence nomenklatura's Big Lie. Brainwashed supporters of Taiwan independence would soon realize, "You lied to us. Taiwanese are Chinese!"

As it is, astonished "tai shang" (Taiwan merchants) arriving in Fujian have been overheard marveling, "Did you know they speak Taiwanese on the mainland too?"

Without government-enforced apartheid, irrational hatred of fellow Chinese on the Chinese mainland would quickly evaporate, starving the already creaky Taiwan independence political machine of essential fuel.

A Growing Sense of Taiwanese National Indentity?

Taiwan independence zealots, needless to say, know all this. The prospect of Chinese from both sides of the Taiwan Strait engaging in commerce, making friends, marrying, bearing children, raising them as proud citizens of peacefully reunited China, gives Taiwan's Quisling elite nightmares. That's why they've dragged their feet on direct links for 16 years.

Former ROC legislator Lai Shi-bao (New Party) is currently an economic advisor to Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Lai is one of the most highly respected lawmakers on Taiwan. Last year at New Party Headquarters, Lai gave a lecture on cross-Straits relations. Lai, who is a Minan dialect-speaking "native Taiwanese," observed sardonically that Taiwan independence leaders lacked confidence in the grass-roots appeal of their own ideology. Taiwan independence leaders feared if "Chinese" arrived on Taiwan in large numbers, "Taiwanese" wouldn't be able to tell the two apart, and that would be the end of Taiwan independence as a political movement.

So much for the "growing sense of Taiwanese national identity" routinely reported in the fellow traveler US press.

As I noted in a 2001 op ed piece, "Taiwan Independence, RIP," Taiwan independence is a lost cause. The only question remaining is will it die a quick and merciful, or a painful and lingering death. It looks like the answer is going to be the latter.

Taiwan Independence, R.I.P.

A is A

The late Ayn Rand was a genius. Nevertheless she was mistaken about a number of issues. She tragically underestimated the importance of the human heart relative to the human mind.

Rand was right about one thing however. She was right about the fallacy of the "moral-practical dichotomy." She was right when she insisted that the moral is the practical, and the practical is the moral. Reality, as Rand correctly inferred, is reassuringly consistent.

Chen Shui-bian's Taiwan independence fundamentalism is every bit as impractical as Mao Zedong's hardline Marxism-Leninism. Both regimes flouted the laws of the marketplace. Both regions paid a heavy price. One point three billion Chinese on the mainland paid dearly for Mao's irrationality. Twenty-three million Chinese on Taiwan continue to pay dearly for Chen's irrationality.

The immorality of Taiwan independence ensures that it will forever remain impractical. The impracticality of Taiwan independence conversely, underscores the sad fact it is inherently immoral.