Wu Cheng on the Ma-Xi Meeting
Don’t Let Cross-strait Issues Hold Taiwan Hostage
Poet and activist Wu Cheng expresses his disappointment in the KMT’s administration and calls for caution in dealing with cross-strait issues.
Don’t Let Cross-strait Issues Hold Taiwan HostageBy Yi-shan Chen
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 585 )
Many people in Taiwan know Wu Cheng for the strong emotional attachment to his homeland evoked in his poems Load and Mud, which they read in their school textbooks growing up. A resident of Hsichou in the Changhua countryside, he is the paragon of the Taiwanese country poet.
Many also know Wu Cheng from the streets, observing the silver-haired man protesting such plans as the Kuokuang Petrochemical project and the Erlin extension of the Central Taiwan Science Park in a firm, level-headed manner, exemplifying his concern about harm and destruction to Taiwan’s environment.
Following are his views on the recent historic meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan and President Xi Jinping of China.
For decades, the amplification of the Chinese civil war between the Nationalists and Communists has held Taiwan hostage. From the early rallying cries to “Retake the mainland” and “Annihilate the Communist bandits,” and progressively moving on to “One China, different interpretations,” the Kuomintang (KMT) has long used the Chinese Communist Party to intimidate Taiwanese society at every election cycle. These actions have shown that the KMT clearly does not put the land and people of Taiwan first.
Ma Ying-jeou approached me back in 2008 when he was running for his first presidential term, pledging to reform the unholy alliance of government, organized crime and big business (known colloquially as “black gold”) down to the grass roots level in exchange for my support. However, in the intervening years all I have seen is half-hearted administration of domestic affairs and willful indulgence of black-gold perfidy, along with Ma’s single-minded focus on handling cross-strait affairs in pursuit of his place in history.
Ma’s cross-strait policy over the past few years has been quixotic at best, steadily placing Taiwan’s national sovereignty in a trap, sinking further and further down. My stance, which has nothing to do with ideology with respect to Taiwanese independence or unification with China, is essentially that, to this date, mainland China remains under authoritarian rule, lacking democracy, freedom and human rights. And a considerable gap still separates China from the convictions of freedom and democracy commonly held across Taiwan. How can we not be cautious when dealing with such a regime?
I have friends in China’s literary circles, and I am not against contacts, exchange, or even the possibility of a union somewhere along the line in the future. However, the pre-condition must be that the level of democracy on both sides of the strait cannot be far apart, where we can both embrace the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights.
There are many possibilities for cross-strait “integration”. For instance, the European Union provides a good example of how independent political entities can integrate together to form a common body. The critical issue of such an arrangement is that the values of the states and the people involved must be close and compatible. For Taiwan and China to integrate, at the very least discussions must wait until such a time when fear has dissipated. But that time has definitely not arrived yet.
Some of my Chinese friends have related to me Mao Zedong’s statement that the “Taiwan issue” could take over a century to resolve. President Ma Ying-jeou is certainly rushing things at this stage. Whilst I will refrain from describing his actions as “selling out” Taiwan, he is definitely overzealous in his pursuit of his place in history, steadily placing Taiwan into the “one China” trap and turning cross-strait relations into domestic affairs. If Taiwan should become a region, it would spell the end of our national sovereignty.
When it comes to the direction of cross-strait development, I strongly advocate that the Taiwanese people be permitted to determine their own fate, which would be handled via plebiscite. Plebiscites have been held around the world for different regions seeking independence. Such a referendum may not pass, but the key is that if change is to come, it must be determined by the people. Further, Taiwan has a host of internal political and social issues to resolve, and cross-strait issues and half-baked internal administration should not be allowed to hold Taiwan hostage.
Translated from the Chinese by David Toman