Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 64

KOREAN POPULAR CULTURE AND HISTORICAL SENSIBILITIES IN EAST ASIA pathize with her. The KMT presidential candidate, Eric Chu, criticized Huang and JYP Entertainment, stating that the situation was too cruel for a 16-year-old (Horwitz 2016). He added that the hearts of Taiwanese people were united to support Chou (Chin and Chung 2016). The presidential candidate of the People’s First Party (PFP), James Soong, commended Chou Tzuyu for holding the ROC flag, endorsing the idea that Taiwanese people should support the continued existence of the nation (Chung 2016). Tsai Ingwen, candidate from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stated that the incident deeply damaged the feelings of Taiwanese, calling on people to come together in solidarity (Chin and Chung 2016). 13 Tsai won a landslide victory as Taiwan’s first female president. She received 56% of the vote, while the KMT candidate, Eric Chu, secured only 31%. This was a significant jump from Tsai’s 2012 performance, when she garnered approximately 45% of the vote (Gibson 2016). Once elected, Tsai referred to the Tzuyu Incident as a reminder of the importance of Taiwan’s status and unity to those outside the nation. It will serve as one of the most vital responsibilities for her, she announced, as the next president of the Republic of China (Gibson 2016). The Tzuyu Incident served as a significant factor that triggered debates on Taiwanese identity during the election, bringing people to confirm and buttress Taiwanese identity. In fact, the incident became an unexpected rallying point for Tsai-supporters in Taiwan (BBC 2016). Tsai used “Taiwan’s First Female President” as her main slogan during her presidential campaign in 2012, challenging the KMT’s male candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, but women voters then were still more likely than men to vote for Ma (Yang and Lee 2016:465, 484). Yao Li-min, chairman of the Citizen’s Congress Watch, noted that, in the 2016 election, those who did not plan to cast a ballot might show up to support Tsai and subsequently China-friendly candidates would suffer (Horwitz 2016). People chanted on election day, “We are Taiwanese. We are Taiwanese. We are Taiwanese.” These chants also targeted President Ma’s China-oriented policies and China’s boycott of Tzuyu’s performance (Loa et al. 2016). Taiwanese identity has increasingly been solidified in recent years in the island, particularly among the younger generation, as indicated in the recent survey of Taiwan’s national identity (Lin 2016:32). Survey respondents often don’t vocally express their own opinions on identity in normal settings. The Tzuyu Incident generated salient and outspoken affirmation of Taiwanese identity during the 13 The evolution of political parties in Taiwan has been intimately connected to its democratization process and struggles of identity. While the KMT has advocated a China-centered identity, the DPP has promoted a Taiwanese identity. From the early 1950s, the KMT enforced marshal law, reinforcing mainlanders’ control over politics, society, and a Chinese identity. The DPP was founded in 1986 by members of the group called dangwai (outside the party) as opponents of the KMT (Hughes 1997:38). Marshal law was lifted in 1987 in the wake of democratization in the mid- to late-1980s, and a KMT-dominated one-party system transitioned to a multi-party system (Chu 2000:304; Chen 2013:232–233). Li (2014) notes that democratization in Taiwan consolidated a Taiwanese identity. He argues that democracy in Taiwan and the continued one-party rule in China have fostered two distinctive social experiences, forming two different identities. 63