#Defenders of Taiwan
Robin Winkler

The people of Taiwan oppose China’s threats of violence. Meanwhile all living things in both countries are crying out to the people to cease their continuous use of violence perpetrated on the environment in the name of economic development and progress.

China has embarked on a course of development of the same kind as experienced in Taiwan which has devastated our natural environment, including the health of our human communities. Our seashores have been covered in cement, our rivers have been dammed to oblivion, our mountains, forests and plains have been despoiled, the fresh air has been exhausted, and the once rich flora and fauna are being extirpated at soaring rates. In the meantime, we tolerate and encourage through our over-consumption and voracity, the building of nuclear power and petrochemical plants, highways and resorts, hyper-marts, incinerators and landfills, and purchases of military hardware.

Why I Will Join the 326 Rally

On 26 March President Chen will take part in a rally against China’s recent adoption of an “Anti-secession Law.” The demonstration in Taipei is expected to draw hundreds of thousands. While in principle all of the major political parties in Taiwan take issue with China’s enactment of the law, the 326 demonstration is largely promoted and supported by only the “green” parties, that is the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Alliance. Thus the event takes on an “independence vs unification” tone, and participation will likely be seen as an endorsement of a political party line on the issue of Taiwanese independence. This is most unfortunate.

My association and a substantial number of other environmental groups will be marching for our home: we will presume to speak on behalf of Taiwan’s mountains, rivers, beaches, forests, insects, birds, plants, rocks and all those other beings we often claim “have no voices” (a statement that I would amend to “on behalf of all those whose voices we don’t understand”). We will also be marching on behalf of that other “animal:” the human beings in Taiwan whose lives have been traumatized by the relentless war on the environment. We hope that members of the environmental movement who consider themselves to be in the blue camp or against the green camp will come out and join us. We need your voices and bodies in the march toward justice for all life in Taiwan, in the march against blind power.

Initially I hesitated to join the rally for a number of reasons. First, except for its inability to participate in a number of international institutions (of questionable merit as evidenced by the travesty surrounding Taiwan’s WTO accession), Taiwan has had all the attributes of an independent, sovereign country for many years. By staging a demonstration against a domestic law passed by a foreign country, might we not appear to be acknowledging China’s sovereignty over Taiwan? And while I believe in and will do what I can to preserve and promote Taiwan independence, given that this status is a fact, belaboring the issue through these sorts of demonstrations seems tantamount to an admission of doubt.

Most fundamentally however, my hesitation stems from the fact that Taiwan is facing so many urgent social, environmental and economic issues that the resources poured into this kind of a rally might be put to better and wiser use. Taiwan’s energy is being drained by China’s machinations. And in a way, we may be playing into Chinese hands by this diversion of resources from the real task facing Taiwan: actions to realize a just and fair society that recognizes the rights of all its inhabitants – human and otherwise – to work with dignity, to have clean air, water and soil, and to have an opportunity to fully participate in determining one’s future.

So why am I joining? The decision was not made suddenly and was a combination of several related events. The first was a long and conspicuous silence on the part of business toward China’s passage of the law, followed by stories in the press about Taiwanese businessmen in China who are keeping mum. Then came the news of UMC and Robert Cao’s selling out to China.

But the biggest factor affecting my decision to join has been a recent visit to Yunlin where during the past few days I have witnessed how the true “beneficiaries” of Taiwan’s economic miracle have fared, and how one of the most important players in that miracle, Wang Yongcing and his band of Formosa Plastic companies have almost single handedly brought one of Taiwan’s most beautiful areas to the brink of hell – all in the guise of “economic development.” What he wasn’t allowed to do in China he has gotten away with Taiwan.

Robin Winkler