A Hidden Thought from the Republic of China

Buried at the bottom of a Japan Times piece on the history of the Island of Taiwan that purports to recount the politics since 1947 of the island and then of the nation on the island was this bit:

On May 20, 2016, Tsai Ing-wen, the chair of the Democratic Progressive Party, was inaugurated as president of Taiwan. During her inauguration speech she said that the “goal of transitional justice is to pursue true social reconciliation, so that all Taiwanese can take to heart the mistakes of that era.”

As [postdoctoral research fellow at Academia Sinica, Ian] Rowen argues, Tsai’s call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) “was a sharp contrast with the deafening quiet across the Taiwan Strait, where Chinese government officials and state media marked the 50th anniversary of the violence and depredations of the Cultural Revolution with muted and terse statements.”

According to Rowen, the TRC “signals a departure from Taiwan’s authoritarian past and draws a distinction from China’s authoritarian present, while demonstrating adherence to international norms of human rights, democracy and self-determination.” He adds, “Taiwan’s truth commission will no doubt further highlight these differences between its political culture and that of China. This distinction, which posits Taiwan as a democratic nation capable of admitting the state’s role in past violence, appeals to Taiwanese nationals, realigns Taiwan regionally, and legitimates Taiwan internationally.”

Tsai also is a staunch advocate of the RoC’s independence from the People’s Republic of China.  I have to wonder, then, whether there might be an additional, longer-ranged motive for her insistence on this TRC.  A motive to (finally and thoroughly) unite native Taiwanese and RoC Chinese (and the factions within those Chinese) to strengthen the RoC domestically in preparation for a later more overt push for independence.

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