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Home > East Asia > 

Taiwan's own bamboo curtain
Paul Lin
12/27/2004

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On Dec. 3, I attended the "Evening of Defending Taiwan's Roots," sponsored by Lee Teng-hui School, campaigning for Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) candidates in the legislative elections. Typhoon Nanmadol was creating a storm outside and this unseasonable assault made me think of Taiwan's situation, buffeted by China and Taiwan's pro-China politicians. It gave me a sense of urgency about "defending Taiwan's roots."

Although I am a Chinese, I have led a life drifting about many countries in the world, including 17 years in Indonesia, 21 years in China, and another 21 years in Hong Kong after leaving China. I acknowledged mainstream values in Hong Kong, but when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, I then went into exile in the US.

My life has been rootless; therefore, knowing that Taiwanese people were gathering to defend their roots, I could very much understand their feelings and also envy them for having such an opportunity.

No matter whether it is a presidential or legislative election, the veteran's community votes has been a hot topics. It makes me think of the film, Spring Outside the Bamboo Fence starring Cherie Chung as lead actress. This film reminds me again of the term, "bamboo curtain."

`Pro-China politicians like Lien have incited confrontations among different ethnic groups in Taiwan, and created civil disturbances, as if to facilitate China's political intervention in Taiwan.'

The Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917 was referred to as the "iron curtain," and China was called the "bamboo curtain" after 1949. It seems that the "bamboo curtain" is milder than the "iron curtain," and this was why western countries preferred China back then. But, in reality, communist China's dark and barbaric regime is a curtain of blood.

Since emancipating myself from China's "bamboo curtain" in 1976, I have tasted the beauty of the outside world. Looking back at my life, I feel shame at having taught the "anti-Chinese Nationalist Party (anti-KMT)" line of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) textbooks.

Although I regarded the KMT as a dictatorial political party, it was not as evil as the CCP, and I could also better identify with its anti-communist stance. I identified more closely with the KMT as democracy began to develop from the end of the administration of the late president Chiang Ching-kuo and through that of former president Lee Teng-hui.

But since Lien Chan became KMT chairman, the party's orientation has changed. The KMT's "conspiracy" with China on major national issues is especially contrary to my viewpoint.

Since Lien's defeat in the March election, he has forsaken localization policies and notions of having roots in Taiwan; not to mention forsaking the notion of "defending Taiwan's roots."

As a result, pro-China politicians like Lien have incited confrontations among different ethnic groups in Taiwan, and created civil disturbances, as if to facilitate China's political intervention in Taiwan.

People within the KMT, or the "bamboo fence," thus become the victim of the KMT's political bargaining counter. The KMT made themselves a mini-China behind a "bamboo curtain" of their own, detached from the outside world and today's ever-advancing era, and unable to empathize with the sentiments of Taiwanese people.

I sympathize with many members of the KMT for having been forced from their homes in China. The older generation, though they have lived here for half a century, still do not identify with Taiwan and although the next generation may seem better, the younger ones have also been influenced by their seniors. While some have escaped the "bamboo curtain," many others are still trapped behind it.

It might seem that the Mainlanders' insistence on being Chinese is a result of cultural factors, but in reality, isn't Taiwanese culture a part of Chinese culture? Contemporary Chinese culture has been devastated by Marxist-Leninism, and distorted by the culture of communist China; in other words, this was true "desinicization." Analyzing simplified Chinese characters invented by the current Chinese authorities, the heart is missing from the word, love, and the verb, to see, is left out from the word, intimacy. The demoralization of modern China is no coincidence, either. So if you recognize China, doesn't your love for Taiwan lose its heart?

Some days ago, I attended a political discussion on TV, hosted by Chin Heng-wei and Hsieh Chih-wei about the issue of national identity and involvement. When Chin expressed his gratitude about Taiwan and Hsieh described his late recognition of Taiwan after he went abroad to study, I also had similar feelings.

My heart is filled with gratitude to Hong Kong, but after its return to the Chinese government, I couldn't stay there any longer. After escaping China's "bamboo curtain," I then led my own life without looking back. I hope that my Mainlander friends also have this kind of gratitude for Taiwan, and don't have any delusional thinking about communist-ruled China. More importantly, they should not sacrifice themselves to the ambitions of the two pan-blue leaders, Lien and James Soong.

Wealth Magazine recently disclosed that Lien transferred some party assets to a friend of his son for management. Isn't this, again, overstepping the boundary between national and party assets, to mix party and family assets? Can Mainlanders really depend on such political leaders?

I understand the different viewpoints of Mainlanders about localized politicians. Taiwan still has a long road to democracy, and its politicians are also not mature enough, but what makes these localized politicians important is their recognition of Taiwan's identity, and their effort to achieve a true democracy in Taiwan.

Only by casting your ballots for these localized legislative candidates can Taiwan gradually be free of the ruckus caused by Lien and Soong, and thus refrain from being swallowed up by a despotic dictatorial China. Only in this way can Taiwan develop and mature in a healthy way.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.



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