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Why Taiwan now—the situation of Taiwan today and global expectations toward Taiwan

By SUGIHARA Seishiro,

Why Taiwan now—the situation of Taiwan today and global expectations toward Taiwan
By Sugihara Seishiro
Former professor, Josai University

A nation unfit to be in the 21st century

I head the organization called the International Research Institute of Controversial Histories (iRICH), which was established two years ago in 2018. On the establishment of the Institute we posted a greeting in our website. Here is a part of it:

Currently in the 21st century, there still exists a nation that monopolistically rules via one party or one family. Such a nation, in its attempts to maintain its authoritarian rule, grossly violates human rights domestically and busily engages in a policy of endless outward expansionism. Due to such national ambitions, the international order is highly distressed. Such a one-party or one-family-ruled nation should not be allowed to exist in the 21st century.

Nations in the 21st century should be totally transparent and accountable, and strictly adhere to democratic political principles based on the free consent of the people, in which human liberty is respected, human rights are protected, the rule of law is duly observed, freedom of the press is guaranteed and information disclosure is sufficiently carried out so that history may be rightfully examined.

On the contrary, China, a one-party stated ruled by the Chinese Communist Party does not allow individual freedom, rights or a democratic government. The Chinese Communist Party, ignoring the people’s will, controls everything. There is no freedom of the press. Information which might pose a hindrance to Party’s rule is never disclosed. China is clearly an authoritarian nation, with neither transparency nor accountability.

In such a totalitarian nation, unlike a free nation, it is necessary to forcibly apply political power, which a free nation never needs to do. A party controlling the entire nation, to keep itself in power, does not guarantee freedoms or rights to its own people and adopts an aggressive expansionist overseas policy. In a vicious cycle, the people thus oppressed and ruled by the one-party nation, support the nation’s aggressive policies, partly to vent their frustration at the world. In this sense, an authoritarian state is not a good for the people in it and equally unfavorable to the rest of the world.

The Chinese Communist Party in Chinese Civilization 

Incidentally, is Chinese Communist Party authoritarianism because of communism or is it because Chinese civilization, for the past five thousand years, has always been audacious and insolent?

The answer is evident when we look at the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident. The man in power at the time, Deng Xiaoping, sent tanks against large-scale demonstrations staged by students and young people who wished to democratize China and killed many young protesters. Deng stated that, “If we concede now, the People’s Republic of China will cease to exist.”

Deng Xiaoping reportedly lost political power three times in his lifetime. At the time of the Great Cultural Revolution, he was forced out of office and barely survived in shivering cold and hunger in the remote back country. Despite all the hardships he endured, he never learned of the inhumanness of Communist Party rule and communism.

The opposite of Deng Xiaoping was Mikhail Gorbachev of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Ever since Gorbachev’s summit meeting with United States President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he promoted a political movement, perestroika (reformation or restructuring), and implemented glasnost (openness or information disclosure). He revised the Constitution, acknowledged a multi-party political system and finally changed the Soviet Union into a democracy. Gorbachev could have chosen to become another dictator like Stalin if he wanted to. However, Gorbachev did not make that choice and when he took the top office, in a position to change the Soviet Union, he focused efforts on eliminating inhumanness derived from communism and one-party rule by the Communist Party.

What is the difference between Deng Xiaoping and Gorbachev? Deng Xiaoping lived his life within a Chinese Civilization markedly characterized most by its cruelty. To him, the inhumanity of the Communist Party was nothing. Therefore, he never thought much of the inhumanity and cruelty ensconced in communism and one-party rule by the Chinese Communist Party.

What is Chinese Civilization like?

According to historian Ko Bunyu (Huang Wenxiong) of Taiwan, the Chinese concept of a “nation” differs from that held by Western Civilizations. Even Western Civilizations has empires with one group or another ruling over many ethnic groups. In principle, the concept of a nation is that of a race, as a single cultural community holding a defined territory and governing its territory.

However, in the Chinese Civilization, there is no such concept of a nation. There is instead a relationship between tenshi (heavenly man) and tenka (the world under heaven). Tenshi is the entity that rules everything without restriction in tenka, wherein people live. The mightier the tenshi (ruler), the more people who fall under his rule, and the larger the tenka expands—the tenshi’s rule over the people expands.

Generally, the political power is backed by physical strength, that is, military force. Therefore, with power based on military force, anyone can become the ruler. In fact, in Chinese history, the first Emperors of the great Han and Ming dynasties were both from peasant families.

Under such a power-based tradition, struggles using forces decide who wins all the glory, becoming emperor, or who loses everything, including one’s own life. It is the ultimate battle of life or death, and leads to an endless cycle of atrocious killing. It is true that wars broke out often enough in the Western Civilizations. But seeing the utter cruelty of wars, they developed international laws and systems to minimize suffering caused by war. However, in China, war means either win and live or lose and die. The number of casualties and atrocities committed in Chinese wars are far beyond those experienced by Western Civilizations. Chinese Civilization is a “murderers’ civilization.”

Such is the concept of the Chinese tenshi. Tenshi, being the master of everything, is not bound by laws. A promise made to others will be kept so long as it is beneficial to him. Otherwise, he will find no need to keep such a promise. No one can blame tenshi for nonchalantly breaking promises. The Chinese Government had promised Hong Kong that it would maintain the policy of “one country two systems” for fifty years, which was agreed upon by the Governments of the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom in 1997. With 27 years still left, China discarded its promise, declaring that the promise was as valuable as the paper it was written on. This act is understandable in terms of an act of a tenshi, who is not obligated to others at all.

Secretary Pompeo’s speech supported by Manifest Destiny

On July 23 this year, United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo made a historical speech regarding U.S.-China policy at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in California.

Amidst the novel coronavirus crisis which first emerged in Wuhan, China, it is clear to everyone that the world has suffered because of the pandemic. China, far from sounding sorry and apological, is taking advantage in the midst of others’ suffering and is further accelerating its hegemonical policy. Given the circumstances, Secretary Pompeo’s speech demanding China end meddling was vital and necessary.

His nearly twenty-five minutes’ speech, titled “Communist China and Free World’s Future”, will be remembered as one of the most important speeches in the first half of the 21st century.

In his speech, Secretary Pompeo pointed out that the enemy we face now is the Chinese Communist Party and that China’s regime is a Marxist-Lenin regime, which is the root of evil. However, he seemed to not recognize that the origin of the Chinese Communist Party’s evil is Chinese Civilization. Since the Chinese Communist Party acts based on Chinese Civilization, criticism of the Chinese Communist Party can be interpreted as criticism against Chinese Civilization. In this manner, we come to the right conclusion anyhow.

Certainly, we cannot fault Secretary Pompeo for not pointing to Chinese Civilization as the source of the problem of the Chinese regime. Secretary Pompeo alone not fail to notice the fundamental problem of Chinese Civilization. In fact, in the 20th century, none of the American Presidents noticed the evil that is Chinese Civilization.

President Franklin Roosevelt, who led World War II, in particular lacked comprehension when it came to Chinese Civilization. He thought that Japan was the sole problem regarded the conflict between Japan and China. The conflict ultimately forced Japan to fire the first shot at the US, triggering a war between Japan and the United States. If we ever calmly reflect on the Second Sino-Japanese War, it will be abundantly clear that China hampered Japan–very consistent with Chinese Civilization.

Secretary Pompeo failed to take Chinese Civilization into account and still considers the problem in terms of communism and the Chinese Communist Party. However, he intends to eventually confront Chinese Civilization at its root, which will help to correct blunders made by previous Presidents in dealing with China.

The United States has the Manifest Destiny as one of its principles–a historic mission of expanding human universal civilization developed from ancient Greek and Roman Civilization to the world. Secretary Pompeo unconsciously may have thought of Manifest Destiny, to fight against Chinese Civilization. The situation appears like a clash between universalist Western Civilization and stubborn Chinese Civilization. It is a clash declared by Western Civilization to abolish Chinese Civilization without any justifiable raison d’etre.

Secretary Pompeo urged in his speech, “And if we don’t act now, ultimately the CCP will erode our freedoms, subvert the rules-based order that our societies worked so hard to build. If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world.”

Requests to the people of Taiwan

Under such an international circumstance, I have realistic and specific requests to make as a Japanese citizen to the people of Taiwan, which is the closest to China and also close to Japan historically, in that Taiwan used to be under Japanese rule.

Recently, amidst the peril of the novel coronavirus pandemic, when the virus first struck Wuhan, China, without being deceived by the Chinese Government, Taiwan took prompt measures and prevented the spread of the virus. Indeed, Taiwan has been successful in tackling the virus while the rest of the world is at a loss as to what to do.

And the most marvelous thing about Taiwan is that Taiwan realized a drastic political change, from authoritarian single party rule by the Chinese Nationalist Party, to a multi-party democracy, where the President of the Republic of China, the head of state of Taiwan, is directly chosen through a national election by the Taiwanese people. And this miraculous feat was peacefully achieved.

Succeeding mainlanders Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo, native Taiwanese Lee Teng-hui, who lived as a Japanese under Japanese rule until he was 22 years old, successfully led the movement for direct elections of the Taiwanese President. Taiwan held its first presidential election on March 23, 1996. Taiwan peacefully transformed from an authoritarian state ruled by the Nationalists to a democracy based on the people’s consent. This remarkable success has made Taiwan eligible to be a leader, together with Western Civilization nations, in the battle against Chinese Civilization.

Regarding this battle to change authoritarian China to a democracy, high expectations are extended to Taiwan, an eligible fighter in this cause, all over the world. Along with global expectations, I would like to specifically propose six realistic measures from a perspective of a Japanese. These six measures are interrelated, two are concerned with Taiwan, two with the international community and two with Japan.

(1) First, national security of Taiwan should be consolidated. In order to do so, Taiwan should conclude a security pact with the United States, in which American military bases are built on mainland Taiwan so that the security of Taiwan is complete. This is what the world expects and desires.

(2) Taiwan should ask countries of the world to recognize Taiwan as a “quasi-state” and that, as such, Taiwan possess the same sovereignty as independent nations. In its process to become a nation, there was a period when Taiwan was ruled by the Chinese Nationalist Party and the “one China” thinking cannot be fully quashed at present from the perspective of Taiwan. Regarding this, we ask it to be clearly stated that discussion on “one China” can wait until mainland China completely democratizes. At present, in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic, the rest of the world are highly indignant of China in its handling of the pandemic. The reasonable request to recognize Taiwan as a “quasi-state” will be easily accepted in the international community.

(3) It is generally thought that reforming the United Nations is extremely difficult. Secretary Pompeo said in his recent China speech, “Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies.” In other words, a new United Nations whose membership is restricted to democracies, and prospective members leave the current United Nations, most of world’s major countries will move to the new United Nations, which will eventually realize “UN reform,” with ease. We want the people of Taiwan to be the initiator of this movement.

(4) Until China changes from an authoritarian state to a democracy, we want Taiwan to persist in asking people all over the world to cut its ties with China, having nothing to do with China, politically, economically and culturally–as if China had disappeared from the face of the earth. However, this is not at all a show of hostility toward the Chinese people. This aims to liberate the people of the People’s Republic of China in a true sense. We must be careful not to have the Chinese people misunderstand our intention in disseminating this message.

(5) We have a request related in particular to Japan. At the new, reformed United Nations, as a symbol of human progress and as nations of the 21st century, it should be resolved that hostile propaganda against specific nations be prohibited. For example, anti-Japanese education in China and South Korea. Elimination of such vile education is indispensable as nations of the 21st century.

(6) Lastly, this is also concerned with Japan. Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, who just recently passed away on July 30, reportedly stated, in official capacity, that the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory. If so stated, we want the Government of Taiwan to back Japan’s assertion that the Senkaku Islands belong to Japan and to admonish the Government of the People’s Republic of China to stop its aggression in Japanese territorial waters. At the same time, we ask that the Japanese Government strengthen defense around the Senkaku Islands.

I mentioned six specific measures, which I assume are realistic, indispensable and expected worldwide in dealing with current problems.

Taiwan was once under Japanese rule and former President Lee Teng-hui, who grew up as a Japanese until he turned 22, praised Japanese Bushido (Samurai spirit), which certainly existed as a Japanese way of life. He constantly urged us Japanese to remember Bushido. Japanese culture remains in Taiwan even today.

With these facts in mind, as a Japanese, I cannot help but feel very proud of Taiwan, which is now leading the world in its gallant fighting against Chinese authoritarianism. We, and the rest of the world, must continue to support Taiwan and hope with great expectation.