Will democracy in Taiwan die?

If so, what should the Taiwanese do?

Since last September, the conservative populist Han Guo Yu has been getting all the attention in all the media in Taiwan. Many believe he is the one who the Chinese Nationalist Party will nominate for the president election next January, and if elected, will lead Taiwan to the irreversible road of annexation by China.

(Read in other languages: Mandarin)

Recently I have been a little disgusted of discussing politics superficially with the local people, whether it is about Germany, Taiwan, or elsewhere. It just does not feel right to talk about the same things over and over again, without any real impact on them.

Things have continued to deteriorate in Taiwan ever since the defeat of the referenda and elections last November. Now the pro-annexation Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are denouncing renewable energy, rejecting right to marriage for gay couples, and embracing the agenda set by Beijing to an extent far more than what we have seen last year.

These are indicators that we are heading toward a worst case scenario as the presidential election next January approaches. That is, a scenario where all progressive policies would be cancelled once and for all.

After their victory last November, the main leaders of Chinese nationalists abandoned their more cautious attitudes when criticizing the energy transition, and embraced the madness dream of nuclear renaissance fully.

Their dream includes an irresponsible call to resurrect the decommissioning NPP-1 from its highly radioactive tomb (where the used rods are still inside the reactor because Taipower cannot yet find a proper interim storage site for them); an unrealistic fantasy that after more than two decades of perpetual delay, NPP-4 could be completed and fully operational in less than three years; and a void promise that the final solution to the nuclear waste problem would be found once KMT were back in office.

The motive behind this nuclear dream is anything but replacing fossil fuels (which is what some of the nuclear advocates would want people to believe).

In an energy conference held by important KMT figures on 10th of March, nuclear advocates and coal defenders stood side by side together to criticize the current energy transition policy; at one session nuclear advocates downplayed the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and other health threat posed by radiation, while at another session coal advocates downplayed the negative effects coal power has on air pollution and carbon emission.

All this happened just one day before the still ongoing Fukushima disaster approached the ninth year; this is how shameless these politicians have become.

And of course, to sell their mad dream, renewables, the real solution to replacing fossil fuels, are again being put in front of the firing squad. The conference invited no real renewable energy experts, or anyone who has even a slight idea of how the power system transition would look like. Instead, they still bashed solar and wind for their predictable variability, and kept using exaggerating lies of how VRE would destroy grid stability and cause large amount of price increase to fuel their smear campaign.

Meanwhile, on the gender equality front, the Chinese Nationalists have successfully negotiated their version of gay partnership law into formal discussion. This version of law is basically useless for the gay community, because it is just a collection of gay rights they already have. This law might be unconstitutional, but who cares about the constitution now? The constitution itself might cease to exist very soon anyway.

Perhaps that is the most chilling thing: it is not impossible now to imagine the irreversible lost of democracy itself happening, should the Taiwanese really elect the conservative populist Han Guo Yu (sometimes dubbed as “Korean fish” because it sounds identical to his name in Mandarin).

Since elected as the mayor of Kaohsiung, Han continued to keep a high profile on the media with his populist style of words. He has been in Hong Kong lately, meeting officials of the communist party without revealing many of his talks.

Consider how he praised the political system in Hong Kong (“I would love to be the Chief Executive of Hong Kong”, he publicly said), these talks probably do not reflect the interests of the democratic society in Taiwan.

As Han pursues the support of the Chinese Communist Party more and more audaciously, other members of the Chinese Nationalist Party are forced to agree more on the annexation conditions Beijing is selling to the Taiwanese.

Following Han, “One nation, two system”, something proven to be impossible to materialize from the lessons learnt in Hong Kong, is now the keyword for any Chinese Nationalist politician who wishes to receive endorsement from China for our presidential election.

A peace agreement that ends the “civil war” is also a buzzing concept these politicians are trying to promote, as if such a thing can really improve Taiwan’s situation.

There has never been a civil war between the Chinese and the Taiwanese. The only civil war that really occurred was between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party. If the Chinese Nationalists wants to surrender to the Communist Party, they can already do it on a personal or party-wide level; but they should never drag the rest of the Taiwanese into this mess they started seven decades ago.

We Taiwanese don’t need a peace agreement with China; we have no intention to invade them, and they have no capability to invade us (so long as the majority of Taiwanese make clear that their army will not be welcomed).

Besides, would the fascism CCP really abide by the peace agreement after we sign one with them? We know from the lessons learnt in Tibet CCP did not have a good record of sticking to a peace agreement in the past.

Signing a peace agreement with the notion of ending a civil war will just decrease the chances of international assistance from third parties, should one day our island be invaded.

Taking everything I described above into consideration, it is thus clear now, that there are only two things remain that Taiwanese should do in the next nine months.

The first is to give support to the ongoing struggle against anti-democracy forces operating in Taiwan, especially on issues regarding our own specialties. This is a now or never situation to contribute to the cause as well intended citizens, because citizens of an open society today may become prisoners of re-education camps tomorrow.

The second is to consider the worst case scenario, i.e., when a conservative populist politician take over the government in the near future and Taiwan fall prey to the fascism regime across the strait not long after. This means we should start to think about a life when democracy in Taiwan no longer exists.

We must decide to stay and beg mercy, to dig in and rebel, or to flee and wait. We must then plan our life accordingly to our decision.

Everything else can and must wait.



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Tony Yen

Tony Yen

A Taiwanese student who studied Renewable Energy in Freiburg. Now studying smart distribution grids / energy systems in Trondheim.