Taiwan Solidarity Union

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The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) in the Republic of China (Taiwan) which advocates Taiwan independence. Unlike the Democratic Progressive Party, its larger companion party in the pan-green coalition, the TSU actively campaigns for the creation of a de jure Republic of Taiwan. It was officially founded on July 24, 2001 and is considered part of the Pan-Green Coalition. The party prided itself on being the first to include "Taiwan" in its name.

Domestically, the TSU is characterized primarily by its Taiwanese nationalism and derives its membership from both the Nationalist Party's former Taiwan-oriented fringe and supporters of Taiwan independence who are disgruntled by the Democratic Progressive Party's diminished emphasis on the question of Taiwanese sovereignty.

In the summer of 2001, supporters of former ROC president Lee Teng-hui formed the Taiwan Solidarity Union. In the 2000 presidential elections, the KMT (Chinese Nationalist Party/Kuomintang) suffered a devastating defeat, in which internal turmoil had caused the party to lose its grip on power. This was blamed on Lee, the KMT Chairman at the time, and he was forced to resign in March 2001. The hardliners in the KMT and recently expelled supporters of James Soong believed Lee secretly harbored support for Taiwan independence and had purposely sabotaged the KMT (by not allowing Soong to run under the KMT) in order to allow Chen Shui-bian to win. Meanwhile, the new President Chen moderated his pro-independence position in the election, alienating some hardline independence supporters in his Democratic Progressive Party. By July, just months before the December 2001 elections to the Legislative Yuan, these factors accumulated to result in the formation of the TSU to continue Lee's policies, and fill the void in Taiwanese politics caused by the abandonment by the DPP's of a strongly pro-independence political force. It was hoped that this would lead to a pan-green majority in the nation's primary legislative body, thus giving the executive branch, under Chen, the political backing necessary to pursue policies supportive of Taiwanese independence.

The TSU's stated political aim is the advocacy of the creation of a Republic of Taiwan and a policy of desinicization which consists of eliminating the symbols and concepts which connect Taiwan to the idea of China. The TSU argues that any lingering connection with the concept of China renders Taiwan an "abnormal nation" and that clearly separating Taiwan from China is necessary to prevent Taiwan from being dominated by an enemy and foreign nation. The TSU has also strongly advocated the creation of a new constitution for Taiwan and abandonment of the Republic of China as Taiwan's formal name.

Lee was, naturally, identified as the "spiritual leader" (though he personally never joined the party); the TSU hoped that Lee's popularity would help the TSU make the 5% support mark. Further, Lee's dominance in the party was revealed when the candidates TSU nominated had all been personally approved by Lee beforehand. Meanwhile, as Lee's actions increasingly departed from the KMT's unificationist-friendly positions, he was eventually expelled from the Kuomintang. Although there was some initial speculation that Lee's expulsion would cause mass defections in the Kuomintang, none of the major Kuomintang leaders or Lee's close associates changed sides. Nonetheless, former members of the KMT were still to be the fundamental building blocks of the new party, with half of TSU candidates coming directly from the KMT.

After winning nine seats in the 225-member Legislative Yuan in December 2001, the TSU has largely displaced the Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP) and TSU legislators began advocating resolutions consistent with its strongly pro-Taiwan independence stance. For instance, they have opened debate about changing the national flag and national anthem. In the 2002 Republic of China municipal elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung, TSU fielded no mayoral candidate, and it suffered a defeat in winning no seats in the Taipei City council and won only two seats in the Kaohsiung City council.

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