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September 2018
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Speeches

K. Chang: Cross-Strait Peace Forum Speech

Speech given by Dr. King-yuh Chang
Cross-Strait Peace Forum
The Future of Cross-Strait Relations: The Way of Cooperation, Sustainable Development and Peace
Kinmen County, Taiwan, November 25, 2017

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Following the “Cross-Strait Peace Forum” held in Hong Kong in November last year, it is of great significance today that the 2nd Forum is convened on Kinmen Island because it plays an important role during this period of confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. I felt very honored to be invited to participate.

Since 1949, Cross-Strait relations have been intricate and tortuous, deeply influenced by internal and mutual policies across the Strait, exchanges between the two sides, and international factors. There are also security, political, economic, social, cultural, institutional and psychological aspects. For more than a year since the political situation in Taiwan changed, the institutional channels for Cross-Strait communications have almost been completely halted. Civil exchanges have inevitably been affected, coupled with Taiwan’s ruling authorities’ efforts to promote the policy of desinicization and putting less emphasis on Chinese history and culture, thus weakening mutual trust. At this moment, our exploration into the future peaceful and sustainable development and cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait not only makes us feel awe for the great responsibility but also reminds us to be watchful and fearful. In this opening ceremony, I would like to discuss the theme of our forum from both the Chinese culture aspect and national identity, so please give me your advice.

I.

There are three sources, or three components, of human life, and none of them are dispensable.
The first is blood-related life. Our life comes from our parents, the life of our parents comes from their parents, and the life of our children comes from us. Humanity is like this: life lasts from generation to generation.

The second is material life. The continuation and development of human life relies on the sun, air, water, soil, animals and plants, minerals and so on. In other words, parents give us blood-related life, but all human beings depend on nature for life and livelihood, including breathing, food, clothing, housing, transportation, education and entertainment. So far, no planet has been found in the universe that is more suitable than the Earth for the survival of human beings and other beings. The earth is wonderful; humans are lucky.

The third is spiritual and cultural life. If a person has only blood-related life and material life, he/she is no different from a common animal and usually only lives and reproduces according to his/her nature. Would there be progress and development? The key reason why people can become the highest order of living things is because people have spiritual and cultural life. No matter what knowledge, experience, skills, arts, ethics, morality, outlook on life, world views and religious concepts we have, they all can be learned, cultivated, inherited, spread and innovated. This has given mankind the potential and impetus for continuous improvement. This also has enabled mankind, a creature that began to exist at a relatively late stage, to grow and thrive on this planet, find the meaning of life, and achieve the ideal of life.

Chinese people pay special attention to the three sources of life. As far as the Chinese are concerned, “The sunshine is strong; our parents’ love and care is immeasurable.” Carrying out their filial duty is children’s sacred mission and nature. There are even old Chinese proverbs that state: “Parents always have their good reasons,” and “Loyalists must be filial sons.” In fact, parents who give birth to and raise their children give them not only blood-related life but also initial material and cultural life.

People want to survive and develop and cannot do so without resources from nature. The Chinese understand this deeply. Humans and nature are interactive. God grows things to raise people, but God also has the virtue of cherishing life, so people and nature should live together in harmony. Work hard, lead a frugal live, be not extravagant, do not waste, and do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, so as to be able to live long in harmony between man and nature. Chinese people pay attention to adapting to nature, conforming to nature and making good use of nature, instead of dominating nature, governing nature and plundering nature.

The survival and development of humanity is more important by virtue of spiritual and cultural cultivation. The Chinese have always attached importance to education. They usually talk about heaven, earth, monarchs, parents and teachers. It is unlikely that we would acquire knowledge, skills, cultural accomplishments, codes of conduct and goals without the guidance of a teacher. The Chinese attach importance to family education because our families are schools and parents are our enlightening teachers. Accusing a person of being ill-bred is harshly derogatory. Chinese people attach importance to the teacher, and believe that “The teacher is strict in teaching, and then the truth will be respected,” and “Good teachers can make the country prosperous.” The Chinese do not rigidly adhere to formal education, so “Sages often learn from different teachers” and “When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers.” People can learn from people who are well-educated, knowledgeable and competent anytime and anywhere. Because human beings can culturally inherit the past and develop the future, they have truly gotten rid of the fate of ordinary animals living only by their natural instincts and also created ever-progressing civilizations and lifestyles.

II.

When it comes to civilization, we certainly cannot ignore the Confucian culture which is the main body of Chinese civilization.

Confucianism originated twenty-five centuries ago. Confucianism is broad and profound. Its inner core is surrounded by “to study the nature of things, attain knowledge, cultivate sincerity, keep an upright mind, cultivate the moral self, regulate the family, maintain the state rightly and make all peaceful.”

Confucianism has a long tradition of humanism. The focus of Confucianism is people-oriented: respect people, educate people and promote people. As the first civilian educator, Confucius advocated that “in teaching there should be no distinction of classes” and “teach students in accordance with their aptitude,” so that everyone has equal rights to education, each individual’s personality is respected and everyone should have the opportunity for adaptive development. Confucianism advocates the cultivation of individuality, including self-esteem, self-discipline, benevolence and loyalty, being firm and unyielding, constantly progressing, and making unremitting efforts to improve oneself. Confucianism does not expect people to be egocentric. Confucianism emphasizes “benevolence” and believes that “benevolence” is the ethical core of human beings. The benevolent person loves others and fraternity means benevolence. The basic guiding principle of benevolence is “do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.” The guiding principle of benevolence is to consider others in one’s own place: “When seeking to establish oneself, one should help establish others as well; when seeking to develop oneself, one should help develop others as well,” and “honor old people as we do our own aged parents, and care for other’s children as our own.” The highest guiding principle of benevolence is “be the first to worry about the troubles across the land, the last to enjoy universal happiness” and “cultivate a mind for Heaven and Earth, set up the Tao for human beings, restore the lost teachings of the past sages, and build a peaceful world for all future generations.” The purpose of Confucian education is to cultivate “educated gentlemen” or “men of virtue” who have the ability to serve with enthusiasm and have the ethics of responsibility, with priority given to benevolence and righteousness and who can perform their political, economic, educational, scientific and cultural functions.

“Care about public affairs and be committed to governance of state” can be said to be the core of Confucian argumentation. The ethics of Confucian governance of state can be broadly divided into the following: humanism, meritocracy, putting people’s livelihood first, creating a harmonious society, responsibility, and sustainable development of ecology. Politically, Confucianism emphasizes the inactive: avoiding disturbing the residents so that the people can make their own living and live and work in peace, and the active: working for the welfare of the people and giving them enough land so that they can have enough food to feed their parents, wives and children, and can not only live well for a lifetime due to good harvests but also avoid the pain of starving to death due to poor harvests.

To sum up, “settle people, nurture people, benefit people, enrich people, teach people, being people-oriented, and putting people’s livelihood first” can be said to be the basic guidelines for the Confucian to administer the country and safeguard the peace and well-being of the people. However, “human family, the world community equally shared by all, and a world of universal harmony” is the ultimate ideal of Chinese culture.

III.

As far as domestic politics is concerned, people-oriented and good governance are the basic ideas of Confucianism. Under the historical conditions of that time, the fruits of free constitutional government and democratic rule of law as practiced in the modern West did not come true. Confucius, however, is called the sage who was well adapted to the development of the times and demanded that people keep learning and keep pace with the times. Mencius had this insight: “People are most important, monarchs are least, and the tyrant can be killed.” Xunzi had the following assertion: “The purpose of establishing the monarchy is to enable him to safeguard the interests of numerous people.” Lüshi Chunqiu said, “The world is not the world of one person but all persons.” The Great Learning says, “Those who have the support of the people can gain power; those who lose the support of the people lose power.” All these testify that “political power should be used for the people’s sake and officials should work for the welfare of the people.” Once fulfilled, it is easy to transform from a responsible politics’ point of view to a democratic, political way of “power is from the people” and “power limited by law.” Because both theocratic and monarchic politics have been cast off, the people are the foundation of the country, the people are the masters of the country, and the people are higher than any states and any rulers. Under the people-oriented thinking and practice of the people being most important, the legitimacy of the government comes from the empowerment of all the people. It is a very natural conclusion that the fundamental responsibility of the state is to safeguard people’s safety and freedom and improve people’s welfare.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen launched the revolution and proposed that people’s livelihood be benefited from the Three Principles of the People: national independence, civil rights, and livelihood, and that 40 million people must be emperors in order to realize the people’s rights. However, he knew perfectly that people could not all handle public affairs by themselves. Public affairs still need to be dealt with by able and virtuous persons, so public officials must be selected through examinations and elections. That people have the right and the government has the power is the ideal of politics and democratic politics.

The core values of socialism advocated by Mainland China in recent years include: prosperity, democracy, civilization, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, honesty and friendliness. On October 18 of this year, General Secretary Xi Jinping of the CPC Central Committee stated in his political report to the 19th CPC that not only people should be the masters of the country, govern the country according to law and improve socialist democracy, but also should promote the socialist core values and the excellent Chinese traditional culture, as well as implement “people-centered development” thinking. At the same time, he also mentioned, “The ever-expanding people’s good life not only places higher demands on material and cultural life, but also on the requirements of democracy, rule of law, fairness, justice, security and environment, etc.” This shows that the values of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait fit each other quite well.

Recently, when Professor Chen Kongli of Xiamen University summarized the common values of both sides of the Taiwan Strait, he took into consideration the five aspects: the world, nations, society, individuals and the cross-strait:

  • World: Peaceful development, fairness and justice
  • Nations: Democratic civilization, rule of law and enriching the people
  • Society: Freedom and fairness, harmonious and friendly
  • Individuals: Honesty, love, respect, self-improvement
  • Cross-Strait: Respect, inclusion and mutual assistance, and joint development

I personally think that if the authorities on both sides of the Strait have the determination in their respective fields to practice these values and uphold these values as they govern, and the two sides across the Strait also regard these common values as the yardstick of their follow-through, coupled with the consensus of respect, inclusion, mutual assistance and joint development established by both sides, then the sense of the alienation in “psychology” and “ties of friendship” between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will inevitably be eliminated.

IV.

National alienation, reconstruction and identification are all processes. Taiwanese authorities should stop the policy of alienation from Chinese culture and Chinese history. In particular, with regard to governance, we should step up the dissemination and promotion of Chinese culture and cultivate a sense of Chinese nationality that has the same root and the same origin for both sides of the Strait. The Mainland side must also implement the Chinese cultural spirit and the concept of “people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all of one family” through the long-term and systematic operation of internal governance and Cross-Strait relations. To win the support of compatriots in Mainland China and the trust of Taiwanese compatriots, both sides should be not only linked by “interests,” but also based on “love,” and support each other with “righteousness.” They should not only share at the material level—joint development—but also share at the spiritual level—common visions and common destiny. Only “sharing wealth,” “having the same ideals and objectives” and “universal laws” and going forward together can deepen national identity.

In short, the issue of trust and identity between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is closely linked with the promotion of the excellent Chinese culture and the establishment of common values across the Taiwan Strait. The process would test the knowledge, determination, wisdom and perseverance of the authorities on both sides of the Strait and would depend on the will and feelings of both peoples. Perhaps the most crucial aspect is the alteration of mindset and an issue of the paradigm shift of Cross-Strait relations. When the two sides of the strait oppose each other, they also hate, have contempt for, vilify and guard against each other; thus the issue of “integration” cannot be solved except by conquest. National identity is even more hopeless and we will become increasingly alienated from each other. In an era of exchange and cooperation, you have me in your mind, I have you in my mind, and we are bound together in a common cause. The two sides of the Strait should be transformed into a relationship of partners, friends and brothers and sisters. We should not only exclude the thinking of using force against each other but also seek common prosperity. We should also share justice and affection, mutual respect, mutual tolerance and mutual friendship. Both sides need to be reconciled with each other based on peace and be friendly with each other based on reconciliation, to achieve harmony. Personally, I think this is the best guarantee for deepening identity, Cross-Strait relations and fulfillment of the revival and progress of the Chinese nation.

V.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

From whichever perspective you have on the internal development of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait or the future of the Chinese nation and the future direction of the Asia-Pacific region, the theme of this forum, development in peace and harmony on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, is of utmost importance. When discussing and planning future peace, reconciliation, friendship and integration across the Strait, what we need is for political and non-political organizations, government and non-governmental organizations, elites and the general public to work together. This will be a major and long-term progressive political project. In the process, we have already accumulated considerable momentum but are still facing some serious challenges. Both sides need to carry forward the inner sageliness and outer kingliness of “harmony is most precious,” “the benevolent has no enemy,” “love to all creatures,” “stopping the fighting based on mutual trust,” “universal love and antiwar,” “inclusiveness,” and “righteousness is the sum of all people’s interests” in Chinese culture. We need to “study the nature of things, attain the knowledge, accumulate the sincerity, keep an upright mind, cultivate the moral self, regulate the family, maintain the state rightly and make all peaceful” in Confucianism, supplemented by modern Western special emphasis on the values of human rights, civil rights, constitutional government, freedom, equality, democracy, the rule of law, the value of brotherhood, so as to be able to reach real achievement and play an exemplary role, and make the Chinese nation send forth radiant light again in this century and shoulder loftier responsibilities.

Finally, thanks again to the organizers for their invitation, the thoughtful arrangements and participation of the host, National Quemoy University, and the full support of Xiamen University just on the other side of the bay. Hopefully, everyone will have a highly fruitful experience. I wish the forum a complete success. I wish every distinguished guest, lady and gentleman, good health and progress in your career.