Chinese Dream is a new phrase appearing in the global vocabulary, but it is rapidly evolving into a describable notion. It is first raised into people's consciousness by the Chinese leader Xi JinPing as a simple political slogan - Chinese Dream is to raise the economic status of the vast population of Chinese people to "middle class" measured against the developed countries. Then the phrase of Chinese Dream resonated among more people who find the Chinese society (environment) indeed offering a vibrant environment (society) for them to advance their economic status (measured from a 'materialistic' point of view) but also to gain political confidence (calibrated from a 'psychological' point of view), hence demanding more progress in life. While majority of Chinese are still more focused on advancing their economic wellbeing, the elites of Chinese are very much concerned with where China is heading to in the future, what role she is going to play in the world arena and how China is going to be united as a nation from a historical perspective, in particular, on the issue how China is going to reunify Taiwan with the Mainland.
Chinese Dream may encompass the notion of reunification as stated above, but it does not seem to be clear at all whether the people in Taiwan shares an equivalent dream. In fact, from an intellectual point of view on the question of people's dream, it is questionable whether there is a Taiwanese Dream or what is a Taiwanese Dream? There is not much discussion on the subject matter in Taiwan. On further observation, one may attribute such lack of a Taiwanese Dream to the fact that there is no leader in Taiwan can clearly articulate or advocate a Taiwanese Dream. Through early years of economic development under the leadership of KMT (individual leaders under a stable political environment) , Taiwan has achieved an enviable economic status with GDP based on purchasing power per capita steadily increasing from $5000 (1980) to $45K (2014), a remarkable accomplishment. One might say that was the Taiwanese Dream. In recent years, the KMT administration was challenged by the opposition party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). DPP promotes an independence movement for Taiwan and articulates the uniqueness of Taiwan people and yet Taiwan’s economy has become increasingly dependent on the mainland China’s market place. Even though DPP did win the 2016 presidential and legislators’ elections, but the people in Taiwan are far less settled in their economic future outlook. In particular, the young people in Taiwan face employment issue characterized by “22K” meaning the entry job salary being only NT $22,000/Month for college graduates. So what is the dream of Taiwanese people now?
There is no doubt that to advance economic development or to sustain a reasonable economic growth requires a stable political system. Many examples can be found in all continents including America. It is understandable that Mainland China is emphasizing such a condition while promoting the Chinese Dream. Xi Jinping has repeatedly declaring China's desire of "rising peacefully under a stable government (led by the Chinese Communist Party)". However, Taiwan on the other hand, seems to have no coherent vision on Taiwan's future both economically and politically. The political parties and their leaders seem to be unable to articulate a vision statement to define and support a viable Taiwanese Dream. The leaders and the political elites in Taiwan seem to have no desire or unable to find out whether the Taiwanese people have a Taiwanese Dream.
Though one does not find "Taiwanese Dream" often mentioned in Taiwan’s mass media, but upon visiting Taiwan and engaging discussion with people in Taiwan, one may find a number of common notions that may be characterized as a picture of Taiwanese Dream. First, the majority of people, especially older people are fairly content with their lives; they are reasonably well off economically. They are satisfied with the services that the government is providing them, environment, housing, transportation, safety, and healthcare. The seniors and government retirees are receiving many benefits; they are used to the peaceful life and being remote from the turmoil in the world. Some senior intellectuals even admitted frankly "Taiwan people are lack of global view or international awareness" and "they are focused on local matters and small issues". The elections in Taiwan, therefore, are principally concerned with Taiwan local issues. Even in the Presidential election, the candidates are deliberately shying away from international affairs and the national reunification issue. If one had to define a Taiwanese Dream based on conversations, it might be characterized as 'we are happy and leave us alone'. The young people in Taiwan face acute career issue but doesn’t seem to be clear with what is happening in the world around them (competition from youth elsewhere) nor what to expect from their political leaders. Perhaps they have been well taken care of by their elders and families; the young people are less concerned with the long-term future of Taiwan both economically and politically than they should.
Politically Taiwan is characterized by blue versus green colors. The blue principally represented by the KMT which has done a reasonable job in maintaining Taiwan’s economy while the world has gone through the most severe financial crisis in the past decade. KMT has also achieved increasing trade, business and travel agreements with Mainland China allowing Taiwan to enjoy a healthy trade surplus and a very significant number of tourists from Mainland each year. The green is represented by the DPP which has focused on seeking the governance right for the past eight years. The party is progressive indeed savvy with Internet communication skills hence attracted many young people’s support despite of its scanty policy statements regarding how to create jobs for the young people and how to charter Taiwan’s future. The green party was very successful in ‘coloring’ the Taiwanese people as different from the Chinese, an amazing achievement given that the majority of Taiwanese having the same blood, same name, same language and same culture as the Chinese. This devious achievement may eventually backfire since the DPP does not really have any choice but continue a strong economic tie with Mainland China. If China would reduce trade with Taiwan and discourage tourists to visit Taiwan, there would be a significant impact on the lives of the Taiwan people.
Ms. Eng-Wen Tsai, a mastermind of ‘two nations’ concept for the Mainland and Taiwan, may have won the election but she is stuck with a divided people very much dissatisfied with Taiwan’s current situation and totally confused with Taiwan’s hopeless future outlook. As people around the world all strive for a dream, the people in Taiwan hear none. Xi Jinping is destined to raise the majority of Chinese people into middle class that means matching or surpassing the economic status of the Taiwan people. What would happen to Taiwan if it is cut off from ties with Mainland China? Is there any leader in Taiwan caring about a Taiwanese Dream? Will President Tsai define a Taiwanese Dream? What is it? How to achieve it?
It is not that people in Taiwan do not want to have a dream. The current leaders in Taiwan do not have one.