Re­build­ing a pol­i­tics of hope is vi­tal if Tai­wan is to step into a peace­ful fu­ture



In her key­note speech at Columbia Uni­ver­sity on April 29, for­mer U.S. Sec­re­tary of State and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton called for ev­ery po­lice depart­ment in the coun­try to have manda­tory po­lice body cam­eras to im­prove trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity.

Her calls for broad crim­i­nal jus­tice re­forms re­spond to re­peated in­ci­dents of po­lice vi­o­lence against un­armed black men from Fer­gu­son to Staten Is­land to Bal­ti­more. She said that Amer­i­cans have to come to terms with the truth about race and jus­tice in Amer­ica. Clin­ton un­veiled her plans to over­haul the cur­rent crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, in­clud­ing bring­ing an end to mass incarceration through sen­tenc­ing re­form.

The same day in Wash­ing­ton, Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe ad­dressed a joint meet­ing of the U.S. Congress. The pre­mier called for closer ties with the United States and said Ja­pan was un­der­tak­ing do­mes­tic re­forms nec­es­sary to take part in the pro­posed Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) trade agree­ment. “Ja­pan will not run away from any re­forms. We will keep our eyes only on the road ahead and push for­ward with struc­tural re­forms.”

Abe also ad­dressed Ja­pan’s role in the Sec­ond World War. “His­tory is harsh. What is done can­not be un­done,” he said. “I of­fer with pro­found re­spect my eter­nal con­do­lences to the souls of all Amer­i­can peo­ple that were lost dur­ing World War II.”

Although cov­er­ing dis­sim­i­lar ground and serv­ing dif­fer­ent func­tions, the speeches by Clin­ton and Abe are united by a deep sense of hope and op­ti­mism and courage to rise to greater chal­lenges. They pro­vide valu­able lessons for our pol­i­tics and chang­ing times.

The deep mis­trust be­tween Tai­wan’s rul­ing and op­po­si­tion par­ties has led to long-stand­ing grid­lock the de­bate about the proper course for eco­nomic progress. But in fact, the two par­ties have more com­mon grounds than most peo­ple think. Both want Tai­wan’s econ­omy to pros­per, and both do not want Tai­wan’s free­dom of choice to shrink. This com­mon ground should be enough to form a do­mes­tic con­sen­sus and prin­ci­ple to guide Tai­wan’s long-term strat­egy and ob­jec­tives on cross- strait re­la­tions. The gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion party should co­op­er­ate to dif­fuse ten­sion, build con­sen­sus, and put the coun­try’s in­ter­ests ahead of par­ti­san agen­das.

“I know in a time when we’re af­flicted by short-ter­mism ... we will have to over­come deep di­vi­sions and try to begin to re­plen­ish our de­pleted reser­voirs of trust. But I am con­vinced ... that we can rise to this chal­lenge. We can heal our wounds ... And we can make sure that we take ac­tions that are go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.”

“Enemies that had fought each other so fiercely have be­come friends bonded in spirit.”

Tai­wan can­not af­ford again to be torn apart by his­tory or height­ened hos­til­ity and mis­trust across the strait. The two sides of the Tai­wan Strait should one day build mu­tual trust to achieve real truce and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. We should not give up this hope for peace.

Ac­cord­ing to Nikkei Asian Re­view, Taipei City has seen the home-price-to-in­come ra­tio al­most dou­bled from 8.33 at the be­gin­ning of 2008 to 15.73 at the end of 2014. This means that a house­hold will need to save its en­tire earn­ings for al­most 16 years to be able to pay for an av­er­age home in the cap­i­tal city. The ur­ban phe­nom­e­non is com­pli­cated by cur­rent con­di­tions of slug­gish eco­nomic growth, stag­nated wage in­creases, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing in­come equal­ity, and other so­cioe­co­nomic chal­lenges that have height­ened the public’s anx­i­ety about the fu­ture.

As Hil­lary Clin­ton said: “Let’s pro­tect the rights of all our peo­ple. Let’s take on the broader in­equities in our so­ci­ety. You can’t sep­a­rate out the un­rest we see in the streets from the cy­cles of poverty and de­spair ... De­spite all the progress we’ve made in this coun­try lift­ing peo­ple up ... too many of our fel­low cit­i­zens are still left out.”

“It is a time for wis­dom.” Al­fred E. Tsai is a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Columbia Uni­ver­sity study­ing Eco­nomics and Pol­i­tics.

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