Nationalism and Taiwan




Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2004





St. Catharines, Ont. -- When I was a student in China in the 1970s, one of the popular songs of the day translated as We Certainly Must Liberate the Island of Taiwan. In those days it was framed as a struggle between competing ideologies -- Marxist revolution v. free-market capitalism. Now it has morphed into competing nationalisms. This makes it a much more dangerous dynamic, as the precedents of Belfast, Kosovo and so many others prove.

The question of identity, the matter of people's souls, could well lead to terrible violence between China and Taiwan that neither side wants and that serves no one's interest. Accusations that the assassination attempt on Chen Shui-bian was likely faked (Protests Follow Close Taiwan Vote -- March 22) add oil to this political fire as his presidency's legitimacy is now in doubt.