Taiwan Republic dispatch. No one likes losing elections, and I am hyperpartisan when it comes to Taiwanese politics. I do, however, take a world history perspective on the wins and losses — that is, what is the larger, general direction. This is why I turned off the news after last evening’s losses and read this book on Taiwanese artist Chen Cheng-po, educated by the Japanese, murdered by the invading China KMT — his mangled corpse left at Chiayi town square, family members unable to retrieve it, as a show of force for the Chinese invaders. Many of his pieces I love, his painting on Tamsui, one of my favorite northern Taiwan places, is my favorite — it populates my computer background, class slides, and phone screen savers.
It has taken centuries of struggle by Taiwanese forbearers, against enemies foreign and domestic, to get Taiwan Republic to this point of democracy and human rights — and it will be centuries more of tears and sweat to preserve and improve Taiwanese democratic statehood. Human beings always wish for an easier path, I include myself in that camp — so yes we all wish for a “final” victory, a moment when we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the Chinese in China and the Chinese in Taiwan and the western imperialist powers will all leave Taiwanese democracy alone. Not without centuries more of difficult fighting and sacrificing — of using Taiwanese art and literature, anime and manga, food and street fairs, films and documentaries, songs and poems — just as Mr. Chen did here, to put into earthly forms expressions and explanations of this Taiwanese nation that we love. For that love, he was murdered by the Chinese invaders.
Given the level of political polarization, I am proud of the relative normalness of it all — for a relatively young democracy, little violence, losers conceded, and the democratically elected president resigned as chair of her party to take responsibility. I walked around the streets of Taipei last evening, MRT and shops buzzing, citizens going about their business – they voted, some obsess over results, life goes on as it must in a democracy. We can always rely on some western imperialist press and academics to produce bad takes — local electoral victories in Taiwan as a sign of warm feelings for the Chinese communists, implications for the rising tension, etc. I suggest studying the ruling DPP’s massive defeats in the 2018 local elections and then pondering what happened in 2020 as a way to frame what is going on in Taiwan. Our Taiwanese elders fought the Chinese to have this democracy, preserving democratic sovereignty no matter who wins any particular election is the most important reason for the struggles. Without democracy and domestic peace, Taiwanese nationalism would be pointless. 27.11.2022
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