This June, we had the chance to participate in the Formosa Foundation’s Ambassador Program for students. We enjoyed this unique two-week experience in Washington D.C featuring workshops with many outstanding officials and scholars, and meetings with members of Congress and their staffers. The goal of the program is to improve U.S.-Taiwan relation.
Many of the participating speakers appreciated Taiwan’s current efforts to stabilize Cross-Strait relations, and were critical of the tense partisanship of Taiwanese politics and the ensuing instability. Similarly, as an American and a Taiwanese, we are saddened to see many frictions among Taiwanese who counteract each others’ endeavors to help their country. In order to prosper – we believe – Taiwan should strive to achieve domestic and regional stability.
We are aware of Taiwan’s history and understand the deep-seated emotions prevalent in modern Taiwanese politics. While having watched the movie “Formosa Betrayed”, we were deeply moved by the tragedy of the murder of the Lin Family and Professor Chen Wen-Chen, and we feel great respect for the pioneers of Taiwanese democracy.
However, we are very concerned about the continued and deeply entrenched antagonism between pan-green and pan-blue. Political prosecution, corruption and other misdeeds of the past should not be forgotten but the lessons they teach cannot be learned by “hating the others”. If parochial enmity continues to supersede pragmatism, the care for the people and the pursuit of common interests, it might bring some short-lived media attention for the instigators, but it will hurt Taiwan’s democracy, its society, and its reputation abroad.
Those who fail to reach out and to bridge opposed parties may fail democracy as a whole. Some of our young Taiwanese friends have become reluctant to vote and turn their heads away from politics in disgust for corruption, endless partisan bickering and physical violence in the Legislative Yuan. Taiwan’s political system cannot afford to be ridiculed and to lose younger generations.
We believe it is possible for Taiwan to preserve its de-facto independence, if Taiwanese spend less time fighting each other and more on fighting together for the issues of common interest to them. Taiwanese who prefer self-determination over political coercion hold the key to success in their own hands. They will prevail by opening up their minds to new ideas, by working together with political adversaries for common interests to truly address the needs of the Taiwanese people, by involving foreigners and inviting them to Taiwan to strengthen social networks between the beautiful island and the rest of the world and by educating foreigners (including visiting mainlanders) about Taiwan. This will help Taiwan find its inner peace, strengthen its institutions, and increase its credibility abroad. It will also boost its self-confidence in foreign policy.
We are confident that Taiwan will rise with the challenge. Taiwanese people have shown their ability to excel in vastly different fields. If Taiwan is able to define and to strengthen its own identity with which all of its people can associate, it will be able to withstand the strongest storms.
Adrian Ineichen has graduated from Georgetown University in summer 2010 with a Master of Arts in Economics and a Master of Public Policy. He currently works as Global Associate at Zurich Financial Services and lives in Zurich, Switzerland.
Lin Chia-Yin “Rose”, worked for the Tainan branch of the DPP as a Public Commissioner in the 2004 elections. She currently works for the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, ROC Taiwan and lives in Taipei.