Taiwanese Nationalism Term Paper

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Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-Strait Affairs

The evolution of Taiwanese nationalism has policy ramifications not just for Taiwan but also for China and the United States of America.

This story of the evolution of Taiwanese nationalism and its interaction with the process of modernization and democratization is important to understand. In spite of the common "roots" mainlanders and Taiwanese share, the Japanese colonization of Taiwan for half a century, the ill-conceived policy of the garrison government that questioned the loyalty of the Taiwanese and culminated in the February 28, 1947 massacre, and the domination of the government by mainlanders who accounted for only about twenty percent of the population together have given rise to this "peculiar kind" of nationalism on Taiwan. Once formed and released, Taiwanese nationalism was the major catalyst precipitating Taiwan to make a transition to democracy, which, in turn, empowered the Taiwanese electorate to become involved in determining its own future.

The evolution of Taiwanese nationalism has policy ramifications not just for Taiwan but also for China and the United States of America.

A review of how Taiwanese nationalism has raged though Taiwan's political system reveals not just its nature as both a struggle for power as a goal in itself and as a means to ensure the "national" sovereignty of the Taiwanese, but also its strength. Taiwanese nationalism has foiled attempts by mainlander / Chinese nationalists to Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-strait Affairs maintain the pinnacle of power, the presidency; ensured Lee Teng-hui's victory in his power struggle with his Chinese rivals in the KMT; and catapulted the pro-independence Democratic Progressive party into power. Moreover, it has reconfigured the mosaic of "ethnic" identities: more and more residents on Taiwan identify themselves as "Taiwanese," while the number of those who cleave to their "Chinese" identity is on the decline. Consequently, the "national" foundation of unification with China has been substantially eroded. The rise of Taiwanese nationalism has policy ramifications not just for Taiwan but also for China and the U.S.

II. First main argument: China has intimidated Taiwan on three occasions but military coercion has only intensified separatist sentiments on Taiwan.

To the extent that China still desires unification with Taiwan through a peaceful process, it must review its strategy of "national unification."

Diplomatic isolation of Taiwan

Threat of military attack

Deepening Taiwan's economic dependency on China

China must search for ways to strengthen "national" linkages between China and Taiwan through cultural and other exchanges.

Given divergent economic and political developments in both countries, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for China to effectively enhance such "national" linkages.

Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-strait Affairs

Yet military threats will only help further consolidate a "sense of joint destiny" among the residents on Taiwan.

III. Second main argument: The U.S. must take rising Taiwanese nationalist sentiments into account when seeking to stabilize relations between Taiwan and China.

President Clinton's announcement of the "Three No's" policy.

Pressure on Taiwan to enter into dialogue with China led many in Taiwan to believe that the U.S. had shifted its position on the issue of national unification in China's favor.

Negotiation with China within the framework of "one China" would compromise Taiwan's sovereignty.

No Taiwanese government could survive the likely groundswell of opposition.

If it accepted any negotiated settlement.

It would undermine Taiwan's "national sovereignty."

IV. Third main argument: Former President Lee dropped any pretense to compliance with the principle of "one China."

Put Taiwan's relations with China on a new basis two years ago: relations between two countries.

This provocative move heightened tension between the two sides.

Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-strait Affairs

These tensions were not at all resolved with the subsequent election of President Chen Shui-bian.

The U.S. must refrain from any moves that would limit Taiwan's options and make Taiwanese feel more insecure.

It is doubtful that dialogue if pursued prematurely would be beneficial.

Both governments, hamstrung by rising nationalist sentiments, cannot show any flexibility over the issue of unification.

V. Conclusion

The rise of Taiwanese nationalism has policy ramifications not just for Taiwan but also for China and the U.S.

Since the prospect for both Taiwan and China to reach a negotiated settlement is extremely dim, it would make sense for them to "shelve" their differences over such sensitive issues as national unification and Taiwan's independence and to negotiate a modus vivendi that would allow them to get along with each other peacefully.

Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-strait Affairs review of how Taiwanese nationalism has raged though Taiwan's political system reveals not just its nature as both a struggle for power as a goal in itself and as a means to ensure the "national" sovereignty of the Taiwanese, but also its strength (Gold, 1994). Taiwanese nationalism has foiled attempts by mainlander / Chinese nationalists to maintain the pinnacle of power, the presidency; ensured Lee Teng-hui's victory in his power struggle with his Chinese rivals in the KMT; and catapulted the pro-independence Democratic Progressive party into power (Li, 1980). Moreover, it has reconfigured the mosaic of "ethnic" identities: more and more residents on Taiwan identify themselves as "Taiwanese," while the number of those who cleave to their "Chinese" identity is on the decline (Gold, 1994). Consequently, the "national" foundation of unification with China has been substantially eroded. The rise of Taiwanese nationalism has policy ramifications not just for Taiwan but also for China and the U.S. (Chun, 1994).

This story of the evolution of Taiwanese nationalism and its interaction with the process of modernization and democratization is important to understand. In spite of the common "roots" mainlanders and Taiwanese share, the Japanese colonization of Taiwan for half a century, the ill-conceived policy of the garrison government that questioned the loyalty of the Taiwanese and culminated in the February 28, 1947 massacre, and the domination of the government by mainlanders who accounted for only about twenty percent of the population together have given rise to this "peculiar kind" of nationalism on Taiwan (Li, 1980). Once formed and released, Taiwanese nationalism was the major catalyst precipitating Taiwan to make a transition to Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-strait Affairs democracy, which, in turn, empowered the Taiwanese electorate to become involved in determining its own future (Kerr, 1985).

After Taiwan's formal democratization, elites became polarized along the Taiwanese / mainlander divide over the issue of Taiwan's identity as a country independent of China or as part of China (Kerr, 1985). The issue remained at the core of the eventual power struggle among them until 1993 (Murray, 1994). It was this impetus that ultimately accompanied the transfer of the pinnacle of power from the mainlanders to the Taiwanese, promoted the crafting of democratic institutions, and the formulation of Taiwan's foreign policy in general and its policy toward China in particular. Politicians perceived electoral advantage in exploiting nationalist themes during elections, intensifying tension between the mainland and Taiwan. This frenzied politics of national identity has found its expression in the heightened interest among the residents of Taiwan in its history and roots (Murray, 1994).

Taiwanese nationalism is such a potent force by now that it would overwhelm any government and politician that remained opposed to the "mainstream Taiwanese consciousness" (Lo, 1994). Indeed it has compelled the government on Taiwan to redefine its relations with China in ways that would protect Taiwan's "national" sovereignty and that would please Taiwanese nationalists but irritate leaders in Beijing. The search for international recognition of Taiwan's sovereignty and the rejection of China's treatment of Taiwan as a province reflect what are now very real nationalist pressures on the government (Chun, 1994). Fear of a military

Rise of Taiwanese Nationalism and Implications for Cross-strait Affairs showdown with China has deterred Taiwan from abandoning "national unification" at the rhetorical level, but the Taiwanese government cannot pursue it "wholeheartedly" and "with sincerity," as China demands (Cohen, 1988).

Caught between the crisscrossing pressures of Taiwanese nationalism and China, Taiwan has made national unification contingent upon conditions - including democratization of China - which China will not and cannot fulfill. On the other hand, the force of Taiwanese nationalism will not permit the government to enter negotiations with China within the framework of "one China" and to accept a negotiated settlement that reduces Taiwan's status to anything short of a sovereign state (Chun, 1994). Furthermore, the new power elite of Taiwan, having gained their deserving share of power after about fifteen years - often at the risk of their lives and imprisonment - will not accept a negotiated outcome that would place them again under the "Chinese" rule (Lo, 1994).

In addition to Taiwanese politics and policies, the evolving Taiwanese identity has affected Chinese and U.S. policy (Kerr, 1985). China has intimidated Taiwan on three occasions but military coercion has only intensified separatist sentiments on Taiwan. To the extent that China still desires unification with Taiwan through a peaceful process, it must review its strategy of…[continue]

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