TAIPEI (The China Post) — Global headlines have applauded Taiwan for its unparalleled response to COVID-19. Containing the outbreak has resulted in the island being thrust into the limelight and receiving global attention that it can use to its advantage.
Managing the crisis has also allowed Taiwan to seize this opportune period and focus on its identity, economy and international recognition.
According to Reuters, “Taiwan has been debating for years who it is and what exactly its relationship should be with China — including the island’s name. But the pandemic has shot the issue back into the spotlight.”
Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan has backed proposals to rename the island’s largest airline, which some critics say will certainly anger Chinese authorities.
According to CNN, “The argument for rebranding gained strength in recent months over fears a series of China Airlines’ cargo flights, used to deliver coronavirus medical supplies around the world, were mistakenly thought to be coming from mainland China.”
Other studies also show that the local people believe the Taiwanese passport shouldn’t have any reference to China. Although authorities claim that there is no sufficient reason for such a drastic move.
It appears that Taiwan’s efforts to boost its international identity and its national interests overseas are moving full steam ahead. But taking a closer look at what the masses think; there is a clear division of people that like the idea of independence and others that want fight for it.
Based on a recent survey conducted by ETtoday, 40.9 percent of participants would be willing to fight or support a family member’s participation, if a war were to break out between Taiwan and China.
Based on a survey by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, 82 percent of those surveyed aged between 20 and 29 were willing to defend their nation if “China uses force against Taiwan for unification”.
This wholly juxtaposes the suppression caused by the authoritarian system on Taiwan’s older generations. Taiwanese youth born into freedom are oblivious to the suffering that has allowed them to live a liberal lifestyle.
Hong Kong’s national security law is a clear illustration of China’s power and its free use of force. Taiwanese are wary of the protests in Hong Kong and question the adverse effects that it could have on them.
Whether or not the riots are foreshadowing Taiwan’s future, the youth must comprehend the distinction between liking and sharing a concept on social media versus making sacrifices like their predecessors and Hong Kong citizens.
Taiwanese youth express a stronger sense of nationalism than their elder counterparts. The high degree of freedom that they cherish has resulted in a fierce pride of their roots which reflects their presence on social media.
But when push comes to shove, they must be prepared for the truly unpredictable and dire consequences that the fight for independence will bring. They must come to terms with the practicality and complexity of the political world that is filled with negotiation, bargaining and compromise.
Saloni Meghnani is a student working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in Taiwan. She grew up in Taipei and attended an international school. Saloni is an avid reader and is passionate about writing. Her upbringing as a third culture child gives her a unique perspective on her coverage of socio-economic issues in Asia.