Independence for Me but not for Thee
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.
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.
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.
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.