Nationalism plays a huge role in the way that Taiwan is currently fighting for representation on a world stage. The country has a very nationalist perspective of itself because of its lack of recognition by major world powers. This comes from China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, and pledge to end diplomatic ties with anyone
who does not recognize their sovereignty. In 1992, Taiwan came to a consensus, which many in Taiwan are hesitant to uphold today, that maintains their relationship and acknowledge’s the “One China” policy I mentioned in Blog Post 1.
As we discussed in Thursday’s class, nationalism is defined as viewing unity and cultural backgrounds as more important in a nation-state. Being nationalist is valuing independence and domination of a nation and having love for one’s country in a very political way. Because it has to fight for recognition from other powerful states in the world, Taiwan has a very strong sense of nationalism, and most of its top political leaders, especially its president, are very nationalist in how they address their country amidst these issues.
President Tsai’s election on a very nationalist platform actually very directly interrupted ties between China and Taiwan, and led to China briefly halting all cross-strait communication to show its displeasure with her anti-One China sentiments.
Taiwan fights for its individualism as a state – though it has not yet formally declared its independence from China due to a threat of military force by China to formally make Taiwan an official territory. China has flexed its military muscle several times in the past and even as recently as January of this year. Taiwan’s hesitation, though smart in that it avoids conflict, may weaken its sense nationalism. Despite its hesitation, its relationship with China is weakening thus far in 2017.
Externally, Taiwan is increasing efforts to be economically stable without China, attempting to deepen ties with other East-Asian countries. This proves difficult, however, as one one formally recognizes Taiwan. Accordingly, “A lack of diplomatic relations means Taiwanese companies cannot benefit from the bilateral trade agreements or tax and investment treaties that help their multinational rivals invest overseas,” (Today Online). This economic independence from China is crucial for its overall independence and the furtherance of its nationalist agenda. Its lack of diplomatic ties with other countries and those countries’ strong avoidance of such ties makes it very difficult for Taiwan to gain any kind of independence at all.
Due to its very complicated fight for equality with other nation-states on an international scale, Taiwan is progressing in its attempt for equality within its own borders. President Tsai has made several actions recently to fight inequality toward indigenous peoples and same-sex marriage. This year alone, a legislative committee in Taiwan’s government has approved a marriage equality bill, making it of the first in East Asia to take significant steps toward equality for same-sex marriage. Though they are in a parliamentary recess currently, discussion of the bill is set to resume in April or May, and has significant support despite the generally divided country-wide opinion on it.
Last August, President Tsai began turning Taiwan’s attitude toward an “apologetic” one concerning its aboriginal peoples. The president issued a formal apology on behalf of the government toward the many indigenous peoples of Taiwan for how they have been treated in the past.
Many modern governments are attempting to make amends with their indigenous people, which we discussed in Tuesday’s lecture through the lens of Canada and on of their indigenous groups, the Cheslatta. Like the Cheslatta, the Taiwanese aboriginal people are not technologically advanced and deeply rooted in tradition and place, which has allowed in the past for the Taiwanese government to bully them into submission to make room for the industrial, modern society to grow and flourish. The apology issued by President Tsai is, according to her, just the beginning of the efforts Taiwan will make to make amends for the years of this treatment.
Taiwan’s position concerning labor rights has been a bit rocky recently, though. Several large protests have taken place this year alone including a flash dance mob held on February 12 of 2017 and a rail worker’s strike in late January. The strike by workers the Taiwan Railways Administration halted operations in many major railway stations throughout Taiwan as hundreds of workers a day went on strike to bring to light the injustices they were experiencing. Many of the workers were being denied time off, even for the Chinese New Year holiday, which all workers are supposed to be guaranteed the right to do.
The dance flash mob took place to highlight the injustices women face in the work place, especially sexually violent injustices. The movement, which is taking place on an international level, is called “One
Billion Rising.” Organizers said their dances were intended to “showcase control over their own bodies and call for the government to protect their rights and interests,” (Focus Taiwan). Furthermore, they urged Taiwan’s government to take workers rights and issues more seriously in the coming year.