Neither Independence nor Unification

Engaging with Beijing Under Ma, Taiwan enjoys its coziest relations with China since the civil war

In his first four-year term, Ma, 61, forged a slew of reciprocal commercial agreements with the mainland. (China is now Taiwan’s biggest trading partner and investment destination.) Academic and cultural exchanges have become common, and thousands of Chinese tourists visit Taiwan daily. Relations today between Taipei and Beijing are the coziest since 1949, the year the KMT lost to the Chinese Communist Party in a civil war on the mainland and retreated, with hundreds of thousands of refugees in tow, to Taiwan. Ma, Beijing and Washington all want the current peace to keep. Ma believes that in a globalized world, no economy can be an island. Engagement with China “carries risk,” he told me, but “it’s in Taiwan’s interest.”

Tsai, 55, demurs. She says she is willing to do business with China — on Taiwan’s terms. She thinks Ma has given away too much to an authoritarian state. “We [should] treat China as a normal trading and economic partner,” Tsai told me. “A lot of people are concerned that we are moving so close and so quickly to China that we would at some point pass the point of no return, meaning the only option is to be with China in the future rather than being on our own.” That sounds perfectly reasonable. But because the DPP advocates de jure independence for Taiwan (an extreme red flag to China), many interested parties — most notably Beijing and Washington — worry about a Tsai victory. One scenario: a return to the cross-strait cold war witnessed during the DPP’s eight years in office before Ma’s election in 2008. It’s clear to all that China and the U.S., which seldom agree on much, both prefer Ma over Tsai — Beijing because it sees him as friendlier, Washington because it doesn’t want to be caught in the middle of any new quarrel between Taiwan and China if Tsai wins.(See the world’s most influential people of 2008.)

The planet’s two strongest nations don’t have a vote, however, and neither Ma nor Tsai can impose their will on Taiwan. The decider is the island’s electorate. Under Ma, Taiwan has been politically stable and its economy resilient amid the downturn in the West. Yet polls have Tsai right on Ma’s heels if margins of error are taken into account, meaning that her stances resonate with a substantial proportion of voters. Whoever they choose will determine the course of cross-strait relations for at least the next four years. Beijing has to understand and accept that it must deal not just with one or two political figures in Taiwan but also with the values and aspirations of 23 million people. That’s democracy. That’s the power of freedom.

Given that Taiwan is its own political, economic, military and cultural master, it’s surreal, and somewhat tragic, that such a discrete and open society cannot be a normal nation. While much of the blame lies, of course, with Beijing — which, through its clout, blocks any meaningful overseas role for Taipei — much is also Taiwan’s own doing. Two polar illusions, rooted in misguided hope, have governed the island: that Taiwan will win back the mainland and unify the two as a noncommunist state (the KMT’s raison d’être) and that Taiwan will be formally recognized as an independent country (the DPP’s cause). For too long, Taiwan has been defined by the struggle for one or the other. But now there’s a growing realization that both unification and independence are impossible dreams, so much so that you don’t hear those words mentioned in Taiwan anywhere as often as before.(Read “Taiwan: How to Reboot the Dragon.”)

What should Taiwan be? Neither Ma nor Tsai can resolve the island’s existential problem. In fact, they reinforce it. Still, they do Taiwan proud. Both are informed, confident, articulate (in English too), well educated (he has a doctorate from Harvard, she from the London School of Economics), well traveled, passionate about making a difference and genuinely concerned about the future of their land — traits any electorate would want in its leaders. Too bad one of them has to lose. But whatever happens, as the freest place in the Chinese world, Taiwan wins.

— with reporting by Natalie Tso / Taipei

See TIME’s Top 10 Everything of 2011.

See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.

 

Neither Independence nor Unification

By ZOHER ABDOOLCARIM / Times Magazine

 

『非統,非獨』

當我最近在台北與馬英九總統及他的主要競爭對手蔡英文女士討論1/14日即將到來的選舉,我順道拜訪了低調而優雅的台北市立美術館。當時,館內正展出全球知名的中國藝術家艾未未的作品。他享譽全球的代表作與裝置藝術都在這展出:The bronze Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, the Coca-Cola urn, the catholic portraiture, an upgraded (specially for Taipei) Forever Bicycles.

 

為強調艾未未無法親臨參與,展名訂為「艾未未‧缺席」。艾未未成為北京公敵,因為他直言中國政府的錯誤:他去年因此入獄近三個月。過去艾未未是中國藝術領域的寵兒,但現在他在中國、香港、澳門都不可能有任何展覽活動。雖然中國聲稱台灣是中國的一部份,但台灣獨樹一幟。在總統選舉鑫戰正酣的時刻,艾未未的藝術展覽在台灣找到了新家,或者,一個避難所,看來也十分合理:艾未未有一個獨立的靈魂,台灣亦然。

 

這組對照還有另一個相似之處。與艾未未一樣,台灣也如籠中之囚(Taiwan is caged)。中華人民共和國堅持「一個中國」,而多數政府與多邊組織也同意這個說法。結果就是,台灣不被視為一個主權實體,必須在限制重重的國際空間裡求存,經常被蔑視甚至根本不受注意。然而台灣即將到來的總統與立法委員選舉 —在2012年全球二十幾場重要選舉中的第一場 — 提醒了我們,這個小小的島嶼在國際社群中舉足輕重。

 

經濟來說,台灣雖小但分量十足。以IT產業為例,台灣在世界各地都居龍頭地位,其外匯存底也名列前茅。區域政治來說,台灣永遠是潛在的爆點*。對中國政府與多數中國人來說,台灣是一個棘手議題。北京視台灣為叛亂省分,終有一天必須回歸,若有必要甚可武力取之。(統計指出中國有近兩千枚飛彈指向台灣。)

華盛頓根據1979年的台灣關係法,有義務協助台灣自我防衛。每當美國對台軍售,尤其是售出戰鬥機時,中國就會強烈抗議,指控美國干預內政。兩大強國因台灣而發生衝突的機率雖低,卻也不能排除可能性。

 

(*a potential flashpoint, 之前翻譯為潛在亮點為譯誤)

 

台灣還有一個更為關鍵,且具有普世價值的要素。台灣值得捍衛之處,不僅是其領土,還有一個概念:在華人世界,自由民主是可行之道。落實法治與對抗腐敗,台灣可以做得更好。在本質上,這很「不中國」:嚴謹的民主政治;高度競爭(且立場對立)的媒體;優質的中文與文化;多元創意共冶一爐(科技、電影、飲食等);高度環保意識(連荒僻山郊都有資源回收桶)。拜託(heck,),連人民都比較好 — 這是個貨真價實的文明社會。中國空有一身橫肌,但台灣才擁有靈魂。這裡才是真正的「人民共和國」(people’s republic)。

 

台灣的聲量,尤其在選舉期間,強到足以在中國迴響震盪。這個島上的人民嚴肅對待政治 — 政治似乎在生活中無所不在 – 因為人民知道他們的選票算數。這場總統選舉,金字塔底層的99%普羅大眾是決定性因素*:蔡英文與民進黨指控馬英九與國民黨偏好財團而忽視了所得不均的問題。但在民生議題之外,中國巨大的陰影則是最大爭點。這場選舉,事實上,是對中國的一場公民投票。

 

(*原文為:In the presidential contest, the 99% figure a great deal:..  謝謝網友杜韻飛指正,我將其建議內容貼於留言中)

 

六十一歲的馬英九,在首任四年中,與中國簽訂一連串的互惠貿易協定(中國現在是台灣最大貿易夥伴與投資目標)。學術與文化交流普及化,每日有數以千計中國觀光客訪台遊歷。此刻台北與北京的關係是自1949年—國民黨在內戰中敗給共產黨,帶著數十萬難民避走台灣 – 以來,最為緩和(coziest)的時刻。馬英九、北京與美國都希望現在的和平狀態可以延續。馬英九相信在全球化潮流中,沒有一個經濟體能置身事外(no economy can be an island),與中國的往來「雖有風險」,但「符合台灣利益」。

 

五十五歲的蔡英文則提出質疑。她表示,她願意與中國持續往來—以台灣的方式。她認為馬英九在主權領域讓步過多。「我們應該視中國為一般(normal)貿易與經濟夥伴,」蔡英文說,「許多人有疑慮,認為台灣太快速、太貼近中國,可能會跨越底線,無法回頭,導致未來除了歸屬中國外別無選擇,無法走台灣自己的路。」這個疑慮聽起來十分合理。但因為民進黨追求台灣法理獨立,這是北京絕對無法容忍的紅線,許多利害關係人—特別是北京與華盛頓—也會擔心蔡英文的勝選。想像一個情境:兩岸回到民進黨執政八年的冷戰時期。美國與中國這兩個鮮少有共識的大國,都偏好馬多於蔡。北京認為馬英九較友善,華盛頓則不想因蔡勝選而在台中關係之間兩面為難。

 

然而,這兩大強國沒有選票,且馬英九與蔡英文都無法強加其意志於台灣。決定權還是在台灣選民。在馬英九執政下,台灣政治穩定,且經濟在西方國家經濟衰退時仍表現強韌。但民調顯示,在統計誤差範圍內,蔡與馬僅一步之遙,表示蔡英文的立場獲得可觀的選民認同。無論誰當選,都會決定未來四年兩岸關係。北京必須理解並接受中國不能只與單一政治人物打交道,並且要理解兩千三百萬人的意志與渴望所展現的意義。這就是民主,這就是自由的力量。

 

台灣是一個擁有自己的政治體制、經濟、軍事與文化,獨立而開放的社會,思量及此,台灣不能成為正常化國家的確令人覺得不太真實(surreal),甚至帶點悲劇意味。當然,許多指責是針對北京,北京藉由其巨大影響力,阻擋台北扮演任何有意義的國際角色,但台灣也有責任。台灣存在著兩個極端的幻覺,根植於被誤導的期望:一是台灣可以贏回大陸,建立非共產主義的國家(源自國民黨),以及台灣可以正式被認可為獨立國家(源自民進黨)。有太長一段時間,台灣的定位在這兩者之間撕扯擺盪。但現在逐漸認知到統一與獨立都是不可能的夢想,漸漸地這兩個詞彙也越來越少被提及。

 

台灣未來定位為何?無論馬英九與蔡英文都無法解決這個島嶼的存在性難題。事實上,他們使這個問題更難解。但無論如何,他們都讓台灣感到驕傲。兩人都是見識廣博,充滿自信,條理分明(英語亦流利),學識淵博,歷練充分,有熱情想要創造新局,且誠心關切台灣未來。這些特質,是任何選民都期望領導人能具備的。想到他們倆人有一人終須落選,實為可惜。但無論勝敗如何,身為華人世界中最自由之地,台灣都是贏家。

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2103707-2,00.html

 

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2103707,00.html#ixzz1jKSIXpGx

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