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Democracy,DividedNationalIdentity,andTaiwan's NationalSecurity

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Democracy,DividedNationalIdentity,andTaiwan's NationalSecurity
  December 2005 | 69 Taiwan Journal of Democracy , Volume 1, No.2: 69-87 Cheng-yi Lin  is a Research Fellow at the Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica. <>  Wen-cheng Lin  is a Professor at the Institute of Mainland China Studies, National Sun Yatsen University. <>  1  Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century  (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 6. 2  Taiwan’s civil rights rating is 1 and political rights rating is 2 for 2005. Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are the three most democratic countries in Asia. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2005: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties  (New York: Rowman & Littleeld Publishers, 2005). 3  The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004 , Democracy, Divided National Identity, and Taiwan’s National Security Cheng-yi Lin and Wen-cheng Lin Abstract Taiwan has become a full-edged democracy. But democracy has failed to reduce social divisions and partisan confrontation in Taiwan. In fact, some observers have begun to use the terms “suicide” or “self-destruction” to describe Taiwan’s political development. This article studies the problems in Taiwan’s democracy, and argues that the key problem is Taiwan’s division in terms of national identity. Hence, democracy has become a disintegrating factor for Taiwan’s society. The article further suggests that the island is playing an asymmetrical game against a rising China, and internal quarrels further weaken Taiwan. Taiwan’s national security faces serious challenges ahead, but the internal division is the factor which is fatal to Taiwan’s survival.   “Democracy” is a term with a variety of denitions. As Samuel P. Huntington points out, democracy can be dened “in terms of sources of authority for government, purposes served by government, and procedures for constituting government.” 1  By any denition or criterion, the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan has become a full-edged democracy. For instance, Freedom House rates Taiwan as a free country and the most democratic country in Asia. 2  The U.S. Department of State regarded Taiwan as a “multiparty democracy” in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004 . 3  70 | Taiwan Journal of Democracy , Volume 1, No.2 Democracy has won substantial support and sympathy for Taiwan in the international community. For example, American lawmakers passed House Concurrent Resolution 292 by an overwhelming 418-1 vote on March 28, 2000, praising Taiwan’s democratic presidential elections on March 20 and criticizing China for threatening to use force against the island. 4  The U.S. government has also afrmed Taiwan’s democratic achievement on many occasions. 5  But democracy, regarded as a means to promote stability and harmony in plural societies, 6  has failed to reduce serious social divisions and confrontation among political parties in Taiwan. Only a few years after the 2000 election, many observers have begun to use the terms “suicide” or “self- destruction” to describe Taiwan’s political development. 7 What went wrong with Taiwan’s democracy? How will it affect Taiwan’s national security? How should Taiwan balance its democracy and national security? This article tries to answer these questions. Democratic and Divided Taiwan was under the authoritarian rule of the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) from 1949 to 1988. Martial law had been in force for thirty- eight years until it was lifted on July 15, 1987. The Legislative Yuan was dominated by the KMT, and was only a rubber stamp. The founding of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the rst real opposition party in Taiwan, on September 28, 1986, ushered the island into the era of a multiparty system. Lee Teng-hui, who assumed power upon the death of Chiang Ching-kuo and became the rst Taiwanese president of Taiwan in January 1988, accelerated democratic reforms. The constitution, which was enacted in 1946, was amended several times in the process of democratization. Ten constitutional articles were either amended or added in 1991, providing the legal basis for the comprehensive elections of the three central representative bodies, namely the Legislative Yuan, the Control Yuan, and the National Assembly. All the 4  “Department of State Washington File: Lawmakers Praise Taiwan Elections in March 28 Vote,” (accessed December 15, 2005). 5  For instance, President Bush stated in his speech in Kyoto on November 11, 2005, that “modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society,” (accessed December 15, 2005. 6  Arend Lijphart,  Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration  (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977). 7  See, for example, Edward Friedman, “Paranoid, Polarization and Suicide: Interpreting Taiwan’s 2004 Presidential Election,” SOAS ( School of Oriental and African Studies, University ofLon-of Lon- don) Taiwan Studies Working Papers,les/workingpapers/ friedman.pdf.  December 2005 | 71 senior parliamentarians, who had been elected on the Chinese mainland in 1947 or 1948 and never reelected, retired in December 1991. All of the seats were opened for public competition in the National Assembly in 1991 and in the Legislative Yuan in 1992.More importantly, a new article that stipulates that “the president and vice president shall be directly elected by the entire populace of the free area of the Republic of China,” was added to the constitution in July 1994. The presidential election of March 23, 1996, was the rst time in the history of Chinese civilization that the highest position in a government had been directly elected by the people, and consequently was a milestone in Taiwan’s democratization. Embodying Taiwan’s popular sovereignty, the 2000 presidential election resulted in the rst turnover of power in Taiwan’s history, and was equally remarkable. Chen Shui-bian, the presidential candidate of the DPP, won the tripartite race. The DPP, whose goal is the establishment of a de  jure  independent Taiwan state, became the ruling party. The DPP’s victory and President Lee’s subsequent forced resignation from the KMT chairmanship to take responsibility for the party’s defeat in the presidential election, as well as his eventual departure from the KMT to form another political party, signicantly changed the island’s politics. Although Taiwan has become a full-edged democracy, politically it is hardly an integrated country. On the contrary, Taiwan is divided in terms of national identity. Taiwan’s numerous problems come from this division. There are four major ethnic groups in Taiwan: Minnanren, 8  Hakka, Mainlanders, and Absrcines. The rst three groups are all Han Chinese. The Minnanren and Hakka, together, are generally called Taiwanese, although their ancestors immigrated to Taiwan from China prior to the Japanese takeover of the island following Japan’s defeat of China in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895. The Taiwanese account for about 85 percent of Taiwan’s population of twenty- three million. However, the Minnanren outnumber the Hakka by a three-to-one ratio. 9  The Mainlanders came to Taiwan from China after the defeat of Japan in 1945, and together with their children, compose about 13 percent of the island’s total population. The non-Chinese Absrcines of Malay srcin, who had inhabited the island before the rst Chinese settlers arrived, account for about 2 percent of the population.When Taiwan was ruled by Chiang Kai-shek and next by his son Chiang Ching-kuo from 1949 to 1988, political power was concentrated in the hands of the Mainlanders. Due to the February 28 Incident in 1947, 10  the Taiwanese and the Mainlanders in the 1950s were described by a scholar as water and 8  Minnanren literally means those Taiwanese whose ancestors came from southern parts of Fujian Province. 9  Government Information Ofce, Republic of China, Taiwan Yearbook 2005 , 32.  72 | Taiwan Journal of Democracy , Volume 1, No.2 oil that could not be mixed together. 11  The KMT resorted to white terror and coercion to suppress the Taiwanese democracy and independence movement and to control the society. In addition, the Taiwanese were politically socialized to support Taiwan’s eventual unication with China. 12  Through politically-screened teachers and the deliberate design of the school curriculum, the ROC government promoted China as the motherland as well as a Chinese national identity among Taiwanese. Mandarin was stipulated as the sole ofcial language, and other dialects were banned at schools, in the military, and at all levels of the government. TV and radio programming in dialects was kept to a minimum. To an extent, political socialization in Taiwan was successful during the rst four decades of KMT rule. The majority of the people in Taiwan identied themselves as Chinese and supported Taiwan’s unication with China in 1989. 13 Lee Teng-hui’s succession to the presidency following Chiang Ching- kuo and his efforts to promote democratization dramatically changed the equation of power among ethnic groups on the island. Although the Hakka and the Absrcines politically tend to side with the Mainlanders against the Minnanren majority, the Minnanren have the advantage in the elections since they outnumber the Mainlanders and the other two minority groups. Therefore, they are the ethnic group that has beneted the most from Taiwan’s democratization.To bridge the ethnic divides and forge a common (and new) national identity, former President Lee has assiduously advanced the concept of “New Taiwanese” and enhanced Taiwanese consciousness. 14  On July 9, 1999, President Lee redened Taiwan-China relations as “a state-to-state relationship, 10  On February 28, 1947, the Taiwanese revolted against the oppression and corruption of the Chinese Nationalist government headed by Chiang Kai-shek’s attaché general, Chen-yi. Still on the mainland, Chiang dispatched troops to Taiwan on March 8, and began an island-wide slaughter of Taiwanese, killing more than ten thousand, including many of the elite. The massacre left a permanent scar on Taiwanese-Mainlander relations. After the massacre, the Taiwanese began to struggle for independence. 11  Douglas Mendel, The Politics of Formosan Nationalism  (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1970), 89-121. 12  Political socialization can be broadly dened as “all political learning, formal or informal, deliberate and unplanned, at every stage of the life cycle, including not only explicit political learning, but also nominal, non-political learning.” See Fred I. Greenstein, “Political Socialization,” in  International Encyclopedia of Social Science  15 (New York: Macmillan and Free Press Publishing, 1968), 551. 13  Chia-lung Lin, “The Political Formation of Taiwanese Nationalism,”  Memories of the Future:  National Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan , ed. Stephane Corcuff (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2002), 222. 14  The New Taiwanese refer to those “who are willing to ght for the property and survival of their country, regardless of when they or their forebears arrived on Taiwan and regardless of their provincial heritage or native language.” See Lee Teng-hui, “Understanding Taiwan: Bridging the Perception Gap,” Foreign Affairs  78, no. 6 (November/December 1999), 9.  December 2005 | 73 or at least a special state-to-state relationship,” during an interview with a German radio station. 15  The ruling DPP continues President Lee’s efforts to promote Taiwanese consciousness. As a result, national identity among people in Taiwan has been reversed. According to a survey conducted by the United  Daily  in 1989, 55 percent of the respondents supported unication and only 6 percent supported Taiwan’s independence. The survey also showed that 52 percent of the respondents identied themselves as Chinese, 16 percent as Taiwanese, and 26 percent as both Taiwanese and Chinese. 16  One decade later, those who identify themselves as Chinese have become a minority in Taiwan. 17   In addition, the support of Taiwan’s separation from the mainland has become the mainstream on the island. 18  It is important to note that identity is not innate, but rather acquired, and that national identity does not exactly correspond with ethnic identity. Many Minnanren and Hakkas are self-identied as Chinese and entertain the idea of unication with China, while some Mainlanders see themselves as Taiwanese, relishing Taiwan’s independence. Despite the deepening of Taiwanese consciousness on the island, Taiwan remains a divided society. A portion of its population still supports Taiwan’s unication with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). And a signicant number of Mainlanders, who dominated Taiwan’s politics for the rst four decades in the post-World War II era, feel insecure after loosing their political power. They have become the leading force pushing for more cross-Strait exchanges and closer relations with China. China’s Rise and Taiwan’s National Security National security can either be broadly dened as safeguarding a country’s cherished values, such as sovereignty, economic prosperity, the political system, and the people’s security, from being destroyed by either internal or external forces, or narrowly dened as protecting a country from external threat. 15    Zhongguo Shibao  (China Times), July 10, 1999, 1. 16  Quoted in Lin, The Political Formation of Taiwanese Nationalism , 222, and Dafydd Fell, Party Politics in Taiwan: Party Change and the Democratic Evolution of Taiwan, 1991-2004  (New York: Routledge, 2005), 92. 17  A survey conducted by the Election Study Center, National Chengchi University, in April 2000, showed that only 13.6 percent of the people in Taiwan identied themselves as Chinese, while 42.5 percent identied themselves as Taiwanese and 38.5 percent as both Taiwanese and Chinese. See 18  A survey conducted by the Election Study Center, National Chengchi University, in November 2005, showed that 10.3 percent of the people in Taiwan supported Taiwan’s independence as soon as possible, 14 percent chose the status quo now/independence later, 18.4 percent preferred the status quo indenitely, 37.7 percent chose the status quo now/decision later, 12 percent supported the status quo now/unication later, and 2.1 percent preferred unication as soon as possible. The three groups, which together accounted for 42.7 percent of the population, favored Taiwan’s permanent separation from China. See
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