Tag Archives: democracy

Democracy is a verb – a Taiwan that belongs to the Taiwanese citizens, a better Taiwan as a part of the world – this emerging Taiwanese national identity: Taiwan dispatch, national identity, and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

阿中部長凍蒜!On the boulevard that used to greet the invader-dictator and then renamed for the indigenous people 凱達格蘭大道, next to the memorial that still inexplicably honors the dictator-invader, thousands of us participated in a political rally on behalf of Taiwanese democracy — a democratic Taiwan Republic that belongs to its citizens — as President Tsai said, a Taiwan that belong to the Taiwanese, a better Taiwan for the world — free from threats and violence.

Have you ever noticed how some too-cool-for-school western reporters, academics, and talking heads find focusing on democracy and human rights corny and not “realistic/realist/adult enough”? The more clever ones will go around in wordological circles and pretend to care, and the more honest ones will just tell you a version of “might makes right” – in the end, the main idea remains, smaller nations with darker people do not get to have self-determination. Interesting too to see overlapping circles of this unwillingness to engage democracy as a core, existential subject in domestic American elite discourse – see the corporate media and chattering heads twisting themselves into knots over President Biden daring to give a speech on democracy; or the core issue of democracy and self-determination in the Russian invasion of Ukraine; likewise, the nature of Chinese imperialism and Taiwanese democracy.

Well, democracy and self-determination are verbs for Taiwanese citizens – not abstract theoretical concepts, not frameworks for which egghead academics negotiate away on their behalf. And it is a concept as many are in Taiwan, borrowed and then modified for local taste – Mickey Mouse paws wearing street bowing by politicians, a parade of too loud vehicles, traditional market sweeps, the chanting at rallies that feels like a Taiwanese-Japanese baseball game.

I stood for three hours with thousands of Taiwanese citizens primarily to thank 阿中部長 for preventing the pandemic the Chinese communists are responsible for from harming my elders. It was very moving to watch Taiwanese democracy as a way of life and an emerging national identity — to be greeted in Taiwanese as ‘The nation of Taiwan’s owners’ in front of the same building where the invader-dictators tried to wipe out Taiwanese as a language. To watch the old school Premier at the end of his speech giving ninety-degree bows three times, sincerely asking for our votes in three languages, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Mandarin. Imagine a Chinese communist, China KMT dictator, or a western imperialist doing that.

The path of decolonization and transitional justice will be crooked and difficult for Taiwan, but there is this energy in this young democracy, irreverent, nontraditional, heterodox, good-humored, and pragmatic. Nothing gave me more faith that this democracy will survive the onslaught from the Chinese communists, the China KMT, and western imperialists, than how orderly and peacefully the rallygoers left at the end — picking up their own trash, waiting for the traffic light, keeping relatively quiet to not disturb the neighborhood. Democracy and nationalism are pointless without love for their fellow citizens inside this nation — they are also pointless if the nation is filled with violence and chaos. May the Buddha bless our beloved ancestral homeland, and our hard-fought and blood-soaked democracy. 12.11.2022

© Taiwan in World History 台灣與世界歷史. This site grants open access for educational and not-for-profit use. Maps and illustrations are borrowed under educational and not-for-profit fair use. If you are the rights holder and prefer to not have your work shared, please email TaiwanWorldHistory (at) Gmail (dot) com and the content will be removed.


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It’s the democracy, stupid: World history and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

A quasi-Taiwanese oligarch once contemptuously asked, “What’s democracy? Can you eat it?” An archaic, narrowminded summary of the contrast between what the Pelosi visit to Taiwan meant, versus the conventional wisdom pushed by Beijing, its allies inside Taiwan, and some in western media and academia.

Western conventional wisdom notwithstanding, the Chinese communist belligerence is not about Pelosi or The Speakership or PLA Day. At every public stop in Taiwan Republic and Japan Speaker Pelosi said the communist taboo words “democracy,” “human rights,” and “Taiwan is a democratic nation.” Taiwan’s democratically elected president Tsai said the communist taboo words “democratic sovereignty” repeatedly. Speaker Pelosi’s visit to the Taiwan Human Rights Park-Museum commemorating the victims of the invading China KMT, and meeting survivors of Chinese communists occupied Tibet, occupied East Turkestan, occupied Hong Kong, and the Tiananmen massacre was what the China Communists and their allies in Taiwan and the west feared the most. A visit mostly ignored or poorly covered by the western media is too cool for school for this democracy-human rights sappiness. Incidentally, one could make a similar observation of the western press corps’s inability to focus on democracy and the threats posed by domestic extremists, too. Ditto the coverage on the courageous Ukrainians defending their democracy, along with their genuine love of their beautiful nation.

This is the world history level irony-paradox: for decades the China KMT and China CCP conspired to domesticate the “Taiwan problem.” How can the functioning democracy be a “problem” while an ethno-nationalist, belligerent, militarist communist dictatorship is not? Yet by its barbarism and belligerence, Beijing has done as much to internationalize Taiwan — a global, oceanic, outward-facing democratic Taiwan, away from the Chinese authoritarian muck and mire — than any force inside Taiwan. If the Biden White House would buck up, instead of fussing about the Pelosi visit, they should coordinate a legislative delegation from democracies to visit Taipei every week from now until the end of the year. If the PLA copycat Russian jet engines are decent enough to sustain massive military barbarism weekly, well then I tip my cap to them. Then maybe we can ask the oppressed masses of communist China: How come you don’t have a democratically elected legislature for foreign delegations to visit? Are you really incapable of exercising your Buddha-given right to choose your own leaders? If “little/periphery” Taiwan can have a democracy that is prosperous and full functioning, why can’t China do the same? 5.8.2022

© Taiwan in World History 台灣與世界歷史. This site grants open access for educational and not-for-profit use. Maps and illustrations are borrowed under educational and not-for-profit fair use. If you are the rights holder and prefer to not have your work shared, please email TaiwanWorldHistory (at) Gmail (dot) com and the content will be removed.

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