Asia Pacific Security - Values and Identity (Routledgecurzon by L. Buszynski

By L. Buszynski

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Existing linguistic and cultural differences which previously may have been regarded as local variations are raised into major distinguishing characteristics and become the basis for a national mythology. Each individual act of intimidation becomes a component of the new mythology and a self-evident justification of separation. It stimulates a strong search for a linguistic or cultural justification for separation as an explanation for the persecution and it creates a new collective memory that becomes the basis of an emerging nationalism.

Indeed, separation facilitated the formation of a quasi-nationhood within Taiwan – one based on localism and language and which has been reinforced by the educational system. Separation has the effect of strengthening localism and of creating a national consciousness from local practices based on local history and language. Most significant, separation allowed Taiwan to develop democratically, which stands in contrast to the authoritarianism of the mainland. Taiwan’s progressive democratisation has strengthened its separation and has given its people a reason to reject immediate unification.

73 Lee used the term “Republic of China on Taiwan” on several occasions during this visit, which expressed his intention for separation from the mainland. Beijing’s reaction came quickly as cross-straits talks which had been initiated in 1992 were suspended on 16 June; on 17 June both China and the US recalled their respective ambassadors. Beijing resorted to a campaign of intimidation against Taiwan to discredit Lee with the Taiwanese population and to bring about his isolation. 74 Above all, the belief in the effectiveness of military deterrence in preventing Taiwan from declaring independence has been characteristic of the traditional approach.

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