The fight for justice and freedom is today’s hard realpolitik in Taiwan. KMT’s policies are not delivering the promised economic results and the nation is not getting stronger. The Sunflower movement as well as the nation’s diverse range of other social movements have shown that justice and freedom mean something. In Europe, the feeling of justice and freedom is what drives many politicians and non-governmental organizations to support Taiwan.
First published by the Taipei Times on September 23 2014
The fight for justice and freedom is today’s hard realpolitik in Taiwan.
The reason for this recent change of realpolitik is that the policies of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for the past six years are not only not working, but are also damaging the nation’s democratic development.
The KMT has constantly tried to persuade Taiwanese that there is no alternative to further cross-strait integration and free-trade agreements with China, and that the moves are the best options for a future of peace and prosperity.
A reality check reveals that this realpolitik is not delivering the promised economic results and the nation is not getting stronger.
Moreover, the policies are not leading to more justice and freedom for Taiwan, but to an uncertain future in an orbit closer to China, which is evident in the closed-door cross-strait negotiations between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as described by Andre Beckershoff in the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs.
The negotiations should be performed through official or at least semi-official institutions only.
The Sunflower movement as well as the nation’s diverse range of other social movements have shown that justice and freedom mean something, and that the fight for them is the new realpolitik.
The realpolitik is observed in many areas, such as when local communities or media freedoms are threatened.
It is also plain to see when cross-strait policies go too far, as was the case with the service trade agreement or when the secrecy of negotiations between Taiwan and China is compromised.
The feeling of justice and freedom is a much stronger and dynamic force than shortsighted economic arguments and outside attempts to pressure Taiwanese to vote in a particular fashion.
The new and the smaller political parties will probably promote this realpolitik, and the Democratic Progressive Party must rise to the challenge.
Moreover, the opposition parties appear to agree that a much broader agenda has to be adopted, which embraces Taiwan’s economic and democratic challenges and broadens economic policies.
The new realpolitik will have to compete with the KMT’s policy, which emphasizes stability and a record of accomplishments with many historical agreements and visits. The KMT’s policy appeals to shortsighted economic gains and it will lead Taiwan down a road from which it will be even harder to see options other than an even closer relationship with China.
In contrast, the new realpolitik will allow Taiwanese to be citizens in a vibrant democracy and a dynamic nation.
Healthy societies change direction when current policy direction and political realities suggest that a turnaround is required.
In Europe, the feeling of justice and freedom is what drives many politicians and non-governmental organizations to support Taiwan. This drive and the Sunflower movement’s broad appeal to society can create international support for the new realpolitik and thus for the opposition parties.
The support requires continuing and honest dialog with European politicians and the media, and ongoing cooperation among various groups supporting Taiwan.
The existence of the new realpolitik reveals that Taiwan — more than ever — has reached a new crossroads and that Taiwanese have a clear choice for the future direction of the nation.