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Fighting between pan-blues and greens is self-defeating

With the Taipei mayoral election fast approaching, the debates and arguments between the candidates are beginning to heat up. Just like in the past elections, the public and the media have been focusing on the two major candidates that represent the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Both candidates, Sean Lien and Ko Wen-je, have never run for the postion before. Lien vows to bring young energy to the city while Ko promises to bridge the “pan-green and pan-blue” divide for the sake of all Taiwanese people.

However, it is always easier said than done. The idea of pan-green and pan-blue is based on one thing: two groups of people living in this nation in opposition to each other. Pan-blue supporters are often viewed as people who believe that Taiwanese and Chinese share the same culture and history; pan-green supporters, on the other hand, are considered those who support the official independence of Taiwan.

The idea of pan-green and pan-blue is brought up most often whenever there is an election coming up because it is the most efficient and simple way for many politicians to win votes. All they need to do is to talk about how pan-blue candidates will sell Taiwan to China or how pan-green candidates will bring down the economy by not working with mainland China. Statements and criticism like these are what lead to the hatred and the antagonism between the two groups and leave no space for common ground.

Every time politicians bring up old wounds like the White Terror or the 228 Incident, it does nothing more than widen the gap between the two groups. We cannot forget history, but it shouldn't be used to push people further apart.

What makes the idea of pan-blue and pan-green ironic is that both camps are made of people who share a common background. The so-called “waishengren,” people who moved to Taiwan after 1949, and “benshengren,” those who had living in Taiwan before 1945, are both immigrants from China. It is not fair to accuse either waishengren or benshengren of not loving Taiwan just by how long they have been on the island.

People in their 30s and under did not experience the events that split the Taiwanese into the two groups. They learn about the nation's history from people who actually saw it happen, all of their subjective perceptions included.

The younger generations in Taiwan were not born with the idea of pan-blue and pan-green. They pick up the idea of labeling each other from politicians, the media, parents and the people around them, and in the end the lessons of history are forgotten as hatred and reckless labeling are still in full force even in the modern era.

Based on a survey conducted by National Chengchi University, 60 percent of people in Taiwan consider themselves Taiwanese, 33.9 percent support maintaining the status quo, and 23.8 percent support the idea of a republic of Taiwan. From the survey we see that most people in Taiwan do share a common belief, in that they are all Taiwanese.

Instead of targeting people's identities or isolating and labeling a group of people, we should work on supervising the policies that the politicians promote. Taiwan cannot handle another great divide. We do not want to be left behind by the rest of the world while wasting our time fighting one another. Loving Taiwan should not become a slogan for politicians to win votes, because deep in every Taiwanese heart lies an inherent love for this place we call home.

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