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.

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