Double Ten ‘distress’
I find it hard to understand why Arthur Waldron is “distressed” at Taiwan’s opposition parties unofficially refusing to participate in the Double Ten National Day “celebrations” (Letters, Oct. 7, page 8).
These “celebrations” come at a time when the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has actively sought to reinvigorate Chinese nationalism in Taiwan through downgrading Taiwan from a state to a region within an -anachronistic Republic of China (ROC), reviving the ROC’s absurd claims on not only the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which Japan claims as the Senkaku Islands, but also China and Mongolia whilst siding with China in raising tensions with Japan, blocking reasonable and legal requests for referendums on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement despite allowing one on gambling in Penghu and engaging in secret and unaccountable party-to-party negotiations with the Chines Communist Party.
Waldron should know that the only consensus the current government cares for is the fictional “1992 consensus,” which in turn is only a transparent tool to reinforce the “one China” principle as a foundation for negotiations with China. If the Ma administration had truly wanted the -opposition to celebrate the ROC’s national day, why did it make every effort to remove and destroy the ROC national flag so that it would not offend the delicate sensibilities of Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in November 2008? As one of my Taiwanese supervisors said to me recently, what country denigrates and humiliates itself to the extent of trashing its most potent symbol of national sovereignty so as to please visiting foreign dignitaries?
Waldron’s distress would be better served lamenting how the Ma administration is actively striving to reverse and undermine the gains in sovereignty and national identity Taiwanese have accumulated since its democratization. He should see clearly that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regard a strong Taiwanese national identity as a threat to the ROC, a political edifice that they are willing to protect at the cost of Taiwanese self-determination. To Ma, “Taiwan” is a word to cynically manipulate at election time to condescendingly appeal to “southern voters.”
When analysts of Taiwanese politics finally come to realize that the ROC is to the KMT as water is to a fish, they will better understand the Janus-faced modus vivendi of KMT foreign policy and their mischief-making complicity in aiding the rise of a belligerent, expansionist and petulant China in the region. It is hoped that they will also come to better respect the actions of Taiwanese opposition politicians who clearly understand the quintessentially undemocratic nature of this administration and want no part in celebrating the continued colonization of their land, nor the KMT’s naked capitulation of the independent democracy they worked so hard to forge.
Arthur Waldron’s call for opposition parties to participate in the ROC anniversary celebrations misses the point. Oct. 10 marks the anniversary of the 1911 Wuchang Uprising, which led to the founding of the ROC. At that time Taiwan was a colony of Japan. Taiwan did not come under the control of the ROC until after the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II.
The history of the ROC on Taiwan is not a happy one. Only a few years after the ROC took control of Taiwan the 228 Incident saw tens of thousands of Taiwanese brutally killed. This was followed by four decades of White Terror, where Taiwanese people were brutally repressed by an authoritarian regime and denied the most basic human rights including the right to self-determination.
It should be no surprise that many Taiwanese are reluctant to celebrate the anniversary of the ROC. Much of its history, in both China and Taiwan, is marked by brutality and repression.
Like Waldron I also hope that everyone in Taiwan can celebrate a national day together. However it should be based on a real consensus of Taiwanese society, not an ambiguous one.
The democratization in Taiwan over the past two decades is a much prouder achievement and something that should be celebrated by everyone in Taiwan. I suggest that Dec. 10 be made Taiwan’s national day. This marks the anniversary of the 1979 -Kaohsiung Incident, a key event that led toward Taiwan’s democratization. It is also Human Rights Day, when the world celebrates the universal values of human rights. This is something that Taiwanese people could have a true consensus about.
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