Taiwan: Passing Through the Crossroads (II)

The Growing DPP & The Rising Fresh Bloods

Along with other controversies and scandals, like Kuomintang’s “party assets” inherited from the authoritarian era, corrupt officials, bribery elections, Vice Presidential nominee Wang Ju-hsuan’s improper properties, Kuomintang’s betrayal of Taiwan cost them another landslide failure in January 2016. Under the leadership of Tsai Ing-wen, DPP grew gradually and steadily after the landslide failure in 2008. Tsai’s mild but persistent style and DPP mayors’ political achievements made it the “No.1 Brand of reform and Taiwan nativism”. This 30-year-old party growing from street protests against the Kuomintang regime in the authoritarian era has proved her willingness and abilities to unite all Taiwan-loving patriots, fight against China’s aggressiveness and to serve Taiwanese people with a better governance. Meanwhile, activists growing from protests and social movements like “Wild Strawberries” (in 2008) and “Sunflower” (in 2014) began to bring their voice into the system. Many of them formed their own political parties to run for positions. NPP (New Power Party), as a rising star, was one of the youngest parties. Founded in early 2015, the party successfully won 5 seats in parliament, 3 districts and 2 at-large by passing the 5% party-votes hurdle. All 3 district-winners have unique backgrounds. Freddy Lim, vocalist of heavy metal band ChthoniC, became a rock star legislator. Writing and performing songs about Taiwan’s own tragic fate and her eager for independence, Freddy also had an active role in Taiwan’s social movements and campaigning for Free Tibet. Huang Kuo-chang, NPP’s Executive Chairman and a JD of Cornell University, was one of the leaders in Sunflower Movement and known as his sharp and professional questions. Hung Tzu-yung won her hometown because of not only her victimhood, but also her courage and perseverance for justice. Her brother Hung Chung-chiu died from army bullying and it was his case that caused hundreds of thousands of “White Shirt Armies” to protest before the Presidential Office Building in July 2013 and was considered as the first step of the collapse in popularity of Ma’s administration and Kuomintang. They brought new fresh bloods to the parliament, marking the era that Taiwan’s political power can be classified as Kuomintang and non-Kuomintang come to an end. Now it is time to refresh the entire system for Taiwan.

Freddy Lim, Huang Kuo-chang and Hung Tzu-yung (from left to right)
Freddy Lim, Huang Kuo-chang and Hung Tzu-yung (from left to right)

A Bitter Lesson About the Necessity of Independence

Taiwan is an island nation in the west of the Pacific Ocean, neighboring the Asian continent across the Taiwan Straits. After WWII, the Republic of China occupied this former Japanese colony as the representative of the Allies. And then annexed it as a province instead of giving residents in Taiwan an opportunity of self-determination. Since then, Taiwan was under the authoritarian rule of Kuomintang, a Chinese nationalist party with strong Leninist gene. In 1949, Kuomintang faced the landslide failure in Chinese civil war with Communist Party, their Leninist peer and lost all the mainland. They had nowhere to go but moved the whole government system to Taiwan and began a more cruel despotism called “White Terror”. But the Taiwanese people kept fighting for their  democracy and independence, which are closely related with each other.

“228 Masssacre”(1947) under Kuomintang Regime
“228 Masssacre”(1947) under Kuomintang Regime

There was an incident the night before the polling day that directly and bitterly reflects the sorrow of the Taiwanese on national identity, and how bullying the Chinese can be. In the evening of January 15, 2016, a video was released on YouTube (for explanations with English subtitles, you can see here). In this video, a pale girl wearing black sweater reads a script feebly, apologizing for failing her “Chinese motherland” and admitting that “there is only one China”. This scenario can easily remind us of ISIS beheading or confesses in Communist purges. Chou Tzu-yu, a 16-year-old Taiwanese girl and a member of K-pop girl group TWICE, was under extremely malicious curses by Chinese netizens. She was considered “pro-Taiwan independence” by holding the Taiwanese flag in a Korean entertainment TV program a couple of months ago when every TWICE member held the flag of her home country (Korean, Japan and Miss Chou’s Taiwan). The frantic and sensitive Chinese netizens cannot tolerate any expressions that show Taiwan as a country. And JYP Entertainment, TWICE’s agency, made this apology video to fawn the Chinese to stop losses caused by this incident.

The flag moment that leads to Chou Tzu-yu’s forced apology
The flag moment that leads to Chou Tzu-yu’s forced apology
Chou Tzu-yu’s forced apology in that brutal video
Chou Tzu-yu’s forced apology in that brutal video

By Taiwan’s law, all campaign activities must stop at 10:00 p.m. the night before the polling day. Since this incident just happened to be around that moment,Taiwan’s internet suddenly became more boiling. On the contrary to some analysis, this incident may not have much help to DPP in elections since most people had already decided their preferences and those who were far away from home were not easy to rush home just to “vote for Tzu-yu’s revenge”. But this really told the bitter story about the necessity to gain an independent national identity. Taiwan herself, looks like Miss Chou in the international stage under the vicious oppression of China, NOT JUST THE COMMUNIST REGIME, BUT ALSO CHINESE PEOPLE.

Future: To Pass the Crossroads of Her Fate

In this election, Taiwanese voters finally decided to wholly get rid of the residuals of Kuomintang’s “party-state” system. Kuomintang failed for its own reasons, but DPP cannot take the victory for granted. Everything is waiting for the new DPP administration to fix the issues, and people will examine them with more strict standards. Tsai moves toward the middle to win, showing a softer attitude to China and on independence issues, but can it change the Dark-Blue (pro-unification) voters or will it harm Dark-Green (pro-independence) supporters and bring the chaos into Pan-Green coalitions? And as it is known among Taiwanese people, Kuomintang’s advantages in the past resulted mostly from its party-assets, illegally acquired, worth billions to tens of billions US dollars according to different researches. The assets of Kuomintang and its affiliated organizations enable them to bribe voters and build a power-sharing system based on corruption and crony capitalism. DPP administration needs courage and strategies to end this system or Kuomintang may bounce back in 4 or 8 years. Most importantly, with the rise of national identity of Taiwanese and the aggressive steps of China, the normalization of Taiwanese nation cannot be delayed forever. Tsai needs to show backbone to China, seeks for supports from potential alliances like U.S. and Japan and reduces the reliance of Taiwan’s economy on China. She also needs to wipe out the party-state heritage at deeper levels, start the constitutional reforms, and make the system fit Taiwan as an independent, democratic modern nation.

Campaign poster of Tsai Ing-wen and her running mate Chen Chien-jen
Campaign poster of Tsai Ing-wen and her running mate Chen Chien-jen

Taiwan has come to the crossroads of her fate, to survive as a sea nation or to die in the cage of China is up to her choice. Main parties should be the pillars of a nation, taking principles prior to specific interests. DPP was the pioneer of democratic transformation, as well as the symbol of Taiwanese nativism. She should take the brave lead to pass this crossroads and explore the brand new start for the Taiwanese nation.

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About Roy Rivers

Roy Rivers (Shan He), Columnist. UMich '16, economic major, foreign affairs & history enthusiast, value investor. Trying to draw my picture of the world we know. Twitter: https://twitter.com/royrivers9206
  • 相当不错,自愧不如!

  • GuderianKrieg

    Here’s an additional tidbit about the Chou Tsuyu story: The guy who first called her out on it was a pro-annexation asshole who came from Taiwan named Huang An, a former singer. He faced so much backlash, radio stations pulled his songs from their playlists and thousands of people were going to pelt him with eggs at the airport if he ever returned to Taiwan. Ended up suffering a stroke a few months back. Guess Karma really paid off there, huh? This also shows the true political leaning of our people, and how it was reflected in the vote.