Tue, Nov 23, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: KMT must shed symbols

If a poll were taken, it is likely that 90 percent of people would not be able to tell the difference between the emblem of the Republic of China (ROC) and that of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), for both are a white sun on a blue background. Both in color and design, the two emblems are almost identical, the only difference being that the rays of the sun in the KMT party emblem are longer than those in the ROC emblem. This might be intended to reflect the comparatively longer history of the KMT.

At a campaign rally on Sunday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) rebuked the KMT for the similarity of the two emblems, saying that this was a legacy of the one-party state. He demanded that the KMT change its emblem within three months. If the party does not do so, Chen threatened to alter the National Flag and National Emblem Law (國旗國徽法) after the Democratic Progressive Party wins a majority in the legislature, in order to force the KMT to alter its emblem. The president has asked the KMT to turn over the copyright of the national emblem, for he will no longer tolerate the KMT's attempts to confuse the symbols of party and nation. As in the case of the KMT's stolen assets, this is yet another operation aimed at separating Taiwan from the KMT. Taiwan needs to put the relics of the one-party state behind it if it is to carry on along the road of democratization.

There are virtually no historical examples in which a political party has used its emblem and its anthem as the national emblem and national anthem. When the ROC was established in 1912, its flag was a five-colored flag. It was not until 1928, after Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) northern expedition and his defeat of the warlords, that the KMT Central Standing Committee passed a bill to make the anthem, emblem and flag of the KMT those of the Republic of China (ROC), and in so doing passed the National Flag and National Emblem Law. This followed the Soviet model, in which no distinction was made between party and state and the party was exulted above the state. The aim of this was to achieve long-term authoritarian rule by the party.

Chiang wanted the KMT to rule for 10,000 years, but his political power was not built on the support of the people, so eventually the party revealed its feet of clay. The KMT was first drawn into a civil war in China, followed by a war of resistance, first against the Japanese then against the communists, before making a final retreat to Taiwan. But this did not change Chiang's belief in the supremacy of the party, so in 1954 he made amendments to the National Flag and National Emblem Law to further ensure that the KMT's flag and symbol were also those of the ROC.

At that time there were no other political parties to protest, because except for the Young China Party and the China Democratic Socialist Party -- which were both supported by the KMT -- all other political parties were outlawed, and anyone who wished to challenge this prohibition faced a prison sentence. But political power is a fundamental human right and the prohibitions of authoritarian regimes are by their nature temporary, for there will always be people outside the party who will work against them. In Taiwan's case, the KMT's ban on the establishment of political parties was lifted in 1988. If the KMT continues to be benighted by the symbolism of the ROC sharing the same emblem as the party, and does not seek to establish a real sense of identity with the people, then the KMT will yet again be rejected.

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