August 13-19, 2012
Editorial: Stop settling public policies privately!
Translated by Lydia Ma
Falun Gong follower Chung Ting-pang was finally released after a lot of effort from citizen organizations in Taiwan. Upon his release, Chinese news networks reported that Chung had expressed remorse over his actions and had also reported other offenders. They said that his cooperation and behavior were the reasons for his early release and return to Taiwan.
In Taiwan, the Ma administration has been tight-lipped on this case from the beginning to the end. It never acted in its capacity as the official government of Taiwan to issue a formal statement calling for Chung’s release. President Ma never dared to utter such words to Beijing.
After Chung returned to Taiwan, he admitted during a press conference that whatever he had admitted to the Chinese authorities, they were done under compulsion instead of his own free will. He clarified that he was forced to write an admission as dictated by the Chinese government.
Just as Chung’s saga was unfolding, another incident was dominating the news in Taiwan, namely the acquisition of China Network Systems by Want Want China Times Group. Scholars, students, and NGOs in Taiwan voiced their opposition to this takeover because of fears that it would create a network monopoly in Taiwan that would be extremely pro-China. In short, they are concerned that this acquisition will give Want Want too much control over what Taiwanese people see and hear.
Want Want’s CEO Tsai Eng-meng is known to be very close to top officials in China and he recently used China Times to distort the truth and gloss over human rights abuses in China.
Beijing’s unwelcome meddling and presence in Taiwanese affairs is evident in Taiwan. One recent example occurred during an exhibit on “Chinese ethnic minorities” at Fuo Guang Shan Monastery, whereby Beijing sought to include indigenous groups in Taiwan as part of “Chinese ethnic minorities”. The indigenous peoples of Taiwan were never consulted about their opinion on this matter. The current Taiwanese government is not interested in protecting the rights of Taiwanese as it is far too preoccupied with becoming China’s “bosom friend”. It has so far strived to settle all irritants with China “privately” or through clandestine middlemen.
Should the church ignore China’s takeover of Taiwan? Of course not! Should Christians in Taiwan avoid all contact with Chinese people? Of course not! However, we need to sit down and think clearly before jumping on the bandwagon called “taking the Gospel to China”. If we want to stay focused, we need to figure out our role and our stand in this matter. Otherwise, we may easily be swayed and forget who we are once we get to know our giant neighbor.
It is unfortunate that our government and our corporations tend to settle important national matters – public policies! – privately. As churches, we need to stop this sort of “privatization”. As churches, we need to be more aware of what is happening around us and we need to be active participants in framing public policies concerning the environment, youths, urban and rural wealth disparity, etc. We cannot ignore these issues and think that they will go away or resolve themselves. Our participation and action can frequently turn things around and bring hope to this nation. In short, we stay “rooted to the land” by concerning ourselves with things that are happening here – in Taiwan!