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the damage done
Much has been said about the new law. It is something that has to be done. It is a show of people’s will. It is making a statement. It solidifies a desire to act, to do something to counter all the moves Taiwan is making toward separation. Of course, it is all of the above and some other points to be scored. And, not surprisingly, it is going down well for China’s internal consumption. But make no mistakes, if we are allowed to take a more pragmatic view, there are serious damages done. I am talking about damage in the area that really matters – peace. If peace is the goal, like those in the leadership and many on this forum like to claim, this is not the direction we are supposed to be going. It seems most people are more interested in providing lip service then seeing steps taken toward peace. Posturing feels good and chest pounding is all that I see |
By codifying policies already existed, the new law would no doubt limit the maneuvering room for all parties involved, the room that may be needed in future contact. Considering the gridlock we are in today, the hope of peace is really about exploring possibilities. For things to happen, we need an environment that breeds outside-the-box thinking and ‘never say never’. Definitely not to unilaterally set more rules of conduct that may end up bind our own feet. Some of the things unthinkable only one or two decades ago have now become daily practice. Time changes and policies can be made to adapt in a way a law cannot. The job of finding common ground has been hard enough. It just became so much harder now. Some of the policies were already rigid to start with. What is the wisdom of casting them into stone?
What troubles me the most may also prove to be the real damage this law has done to the prospect of peace - it destroyed the platform of one of the political forces in Taiwan that could be responsible for bringing two sides closer. Their platform is sold on the premise that CCP is reasonable enough to negotiate with, which has always been doubtful in people’s mind even at the best of time. But now, given another chance to demonize China, that premise is basically vanished. To understand this point, one has to dispel the wrong notion that, in Taiwan, anyone who is not with Tai du must be pro-China. In fact, Taiwan has been dealt with harshly for such a long time, no one wish to be seen with an outright pro-China stance. And much more so for any political figures, regardless of which camp he or she is with.
I am not for Tai du, if it is not apparent. There is another usual misconception needs to go: you are Tai du if you don’t agree with the CCP's policy. It is this black and white, no middle ground ideology that make China unapproachable, politically, from Taiwan’s standpoint. Few understand the frustration of the group of population in Taiwan who do not approve of Tai du, and even fewer lend them any hand. For so long, they found no counterpart in China to meet them in the middle. Guess what? The carpet is slipping from underneath of them with the new law’s passing. If they go, so goes the force that can keep things in check.
Talking heads on TV keep telling us the law is aimed at Tai du, not Taiwanese people in general and Beijing is still counting on people in Taiwan to eventually push for a peaceful return. How can they be taken seriously while passing a law that severely weaken the hand of those most likely to deliver their wishes? It made me wonder how much they understand the people in Taiwan and political landscape there. Speaking of understanding, I sense a general lack of even the aspiration to understand. After all, why do 13 billions have to be concerned with how the 23 millions think? The answer is quite simple - peace.
When I think about how the new law might act as a warning shot in the international arena and the increased tension to follow, odds are an accelerated arms buildup in the region will be underway. Something we definitely do not want to see if peace is our ultimate goal.