Sun, May 12, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Taiwan is the `motherland'

It is appropriate that the first-ever "Parade for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan (台灣正名大遊行)" took place on the eve of Mother's Day. It is to be hoped that this parade is the start of a prolonged campaign to help the people of Taiwan shape a new sense of national identity for their motherland Taiwan and awaken pride about being "Taiwanese."

Chinese culture eulogizes China as the "beloved mother" or "sacred motherland." While that may give the listeners goose bumps at times, upon closer examination, such terms are fitting descriptions for one's country. Sadly, the people of Taiwan are denied their birthright to acknowledge their "mother" -- Taiwan.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had a point when he said that it didn't matter by what name US President George W. Bush called Taiwan, so long as Bush recognized that Taiwan was a country. From the standpoint of pragmatism, it is acceptable, but just barely, to have Taiwan use the name "Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan" for the time being. But it would unbearable for this compromise to continue indefinitely. After all, what child could be so heartless as to feel content about forever calling his or her neighbor (i.e. China) "mother?"

Besides, the name ROC not only causes confusion, but also obstructs efforts to build a new sense of national identity and national pride. The name ROC immediately brings to mind the ROC government on China more than five decades ago. That immediately creates the legal dilemma of "two Chinas," since the PRC is now the legal and rightful representative government of China.

Moreover, the name ROC has already caused generations of Taiwanese to suffer from a severe case of split personality. For years, they have been told by the government, the news media and their textbooks that they are all "Chinese." On the other side of the Taiwan Strait are a group of "Chinese" who supposedly are their countrymen. Yet, these countrymen not only are hostile toward them, but also share virtually nothing in common with them in terms of political values or personal experience over the past five decades.

There are those who argue that a distinction should be made between ethnicity and citizenship. They say that the people of Taiwan are "ethnic Chinese," but citizens of the country Taiwan/ROC. For example, the US has immigrants from all over the world who identify themselves as "Irish-Americans," "Korean-Americans" and so on. But, unlike Taiwan, the US does not face a hostile and hungry power eagerly seeking to engulf its national and cultural identity. The people of Taiwan are confused enough. They need a clear sense of who they are.

There are also those who condemn the name-rectification movement as exemplifying the "bigotry" and "egotism" of Taiwanese. These people obviously cannot understand the sentiment of a formerly subjugated people. The goal of the "name rectification" and "Taiwan consciousness" movements is to help a once-oppressed group rediscover a sense of pride and empowerment, rather than to incite hostility and hatred toward other people. This is somewhat comparable to the "black power" movement by black Americans. Besides, everyone in Taiwan who identifies with the land and the people here are "Taiwanese," including those who emigrated to Taiwan with the KMT regime and their descendants.

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