Friday, September 30, 2005

Taiwan’s independence movement

From a 50-year separate rule and a Japanese heritage from the colonial time, Taiwan is gradually discovering and asserting her identity as a country. Only with a huge obstacle: the opposition of the Chinese.

It is instrumental to consider the independence movement around the world. Use as case studies, I think people who are interested in either side of the argument should look at the case of Quebec in Canada, East Timor in Indonesia, Basque in Spain, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in Russia, Tibet in China, Mongolia in China, Xinjiang in China, Porto Rico in the US, Northern Ireland in the UK, William Wallace story of Scotland, and many more.

Some succeeded, some failed, in their aspiration to become a country. Many are violent and some very bloody. In each case, a desire to self-rule and freedom from an upper government is evident. Cultural difference usually justifies the request to self-rule, so cultural assimilation is used as an important tool for the federalists. Economic interest is certainly in the mind of the leaders. Better governance is hoped but not always realized.

Small countries are usually better governed. Homogeneous culture reduces infighting. Large area usually guarantees different regional interest. Different life style almost always points to different value. Religious belief plays an important role, too. If a large country is to remain integral, either a high degree of autonomy and democracy, as in the case of the US, or a high degree of cultural assimilation, as in the case of Japan, or a high degree of military and central control, as in the case of China, will be needed.

Armed forces usually play an important part of the independence movement. Timing is also important, as in the case of the three Baltic countries and Mongolia. Separation or union, the utmost goal should be better governance and happier people. But I am aware I am idealistic.

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