Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Starting Point

My hope is that this blog will help me to develop my thoughts on the subject by forcing me to make concise statements reinforced by links to supporting evidence. I hope that others will post their comments and thoughts on this blog as well (which of course would raise the level of discourse) if I am ever able to lure any readers here. So without any further ado, let me start with my first blog post...
It seems to me that the conclusions drawn by China-watchers are often largely affected by their ideological bias. As I won't claim to be the one true, unbiased researcher in the field, I feel it is appropriate to reveal my ideology as it relates to these issues.

AMERICA - I lean toward the right in American domestic and international politics. More relevantly, my Weltanschauung borders between Realism and Neo-Conservatism. Economically, I am a strong supporter of free trade.

TAIWAN - I am green. For those of you not familiar with the Taiwanese political spectrum, this graphic may help:

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) is headed by Former President Lee Teng-hui and supports independence ASAP.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is the party currently in power and is headed by President Chen Shui-bian. The DPP supports independence but is more pragmatic in terms of the means of achieving that eventual aim. President Chen has repeatedly stated that there is no need to declare independence because Taiwan already is independent.
These two parties combined form the Pan Green Alliance. It is relevant to note that greens refer to the country as Taiwan, while the blues use the official name of Republic of China. This is in large part due to the ethic and historical identification of its supporters.
The Kuomintang (KMT, also romanized as Guomindang or GMD) is the oldest of the political parties and dates back to the founding of the Republic of China (ROC) on the mainland under the leadership of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The KMT ruled Taiwan under martial law for many years before allowing opposition parties in the last two decades.
The People First Party (PFP) is nearly identical to the KMT in ideology. The PFP broke off from the KMT because in the 2000 presidential election, James Soong (who later founded the PFP) and Lien Chan (the chosen KMT candidate) both wanted to run for president. They split the vote and brought the DPP to power, ending nearly nine decades of continuous KMT rule. Both parties are still run by their candidates in 2000, although they have been better about collaborating in recent years.
The New Party is the smallest noteworthy party but is unlikely to be noteworthy much longer. The number of legislators in the Legislative Yuan is currently being halved and this pro-Independence party is being marginalized.
The latter three parties form the Pan Blue Coalition. All three support eventual reunification with the mainland. Keep in mind this does not mean they want Taiwan to be a province of the People's Republic of China (PRC). These parties, all of which draw their lineage from the KMT, favor reunification on terms that Chiang Kai-shek would have favored (eg: conquering the mainland or some kind of merger under the democratic principles of the ROC Constitution).
I find the idea of reconquista (to use a Spanish term to describe Chinese politics) or such a democratic unification unrealistic and thus I believe Taiwan must base its foreign policy on gaining de jure international recognition of its de facto independence. This belief puts me firmly in the green camp.

CHINA - There is only one political party in China, so I guess I would identify myself as a non-Party member. I do not support undermining the regime, so I wouldn't classify myself as opposition, but I also do not support the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I believe that stability of China is very important for the peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Straits as China is unlikely to attempt to "reunify" the country by force as long as it remains prosperous and the CCP's rule is not challenged. I support an American foreign policy toward China similar to the one outlined by Natan Sharansky in The Case for Democracy for "fear societies," which is to say the linkage of foreign policy carrots to their domestic policies (specifically the liberalization of policies toward dissent).

I hope this helps understand who I am and where I am coming from.

For those seeking a more historical look at Taiwan's political parties, see this post by Jerome Keating.
Jujuflop does a better job than I explaining the DPP's position on Taiwan independence here.