Thu, Nov 02, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Identity crisis a common malady

Out of the blue, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) launched a volley of criticism at Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director Billy Chang (張國政) this week over CKS International Airport's name being changed to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

In his outburst at a legislative committee session, Chiang, the son of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (CCK, 蔣經國), slammed Chang for "being ungrateful and biting the hand that feeds him."

Many people wondered what lay behind his outburst. After all, the airport was originally called the Taoyuan Airport before its name was changed in sycophantic homage to the late dictator. And John Chiang himself is no stranger to changing appellations. He changed his name from Chang to Chiang just a few years ago, after the death of CCK's widow -- despite complaints from some members of the Chiang family. So why can't the name of the country's main airport revert to its original?

John Chiang was obviously upset over the efforts of the Democratic Progressive Party government to remove the remaining traces of the rule of his grandfather, Chiang Kai-shek (CKS, 蔣介石). But while he fought -- and succeeded -- to change his family name to that of his father, John Chiang has failed to honor either his father or his grandfather by acting in accordance with their teachings -- and what they stood for -- as a quick review of his actions in recent years shows.

CKS was adamant in his campaign to "stamp out the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]," yet who is now a frequent visitor to the other side of the Taiwan Strait? CCK was firm in his insistence on the "three noes" -- no negotiating, no compromising and no contact with the CCP -- yet who is noted for busily shaking hands with ranking CCP officials?

John Chiang published his autobiography, titled The Kid Outside the Chiang Family's Door, and in a nod to his new-found friends across the Strait it was published in both traditional and simplified character versions. But it wasn't just the characters that changed in the version intended for China.

John Chiang self-censored almost all the key words in his text for the Chinese version, such as addressing his father as "Mr. Ching-kuo" instead of "President Ching-kuo" and "President Chiang [Kai-shek]" to "Mr. Chiang Senior."

Here is someone who is willing to censor his own biography and downgrade his own father and grandfather to curry favor with China's rulers. So who is he to point the finger at Taiwan for changing the name of an airport?

Although both CKS and CCK were criticized for their authoritarian rule in Taiwan, at least they made it clear that Taiwan formed the basis of their government; that without Taiwan, there was no Republic of China (ROC). Both of them also stressed their determination to "safeguard the ROC."

John Chiang, on the other hand, has been promoting the opening of the three links under the so-called "1992 consensus" and Beijing's "one China" principle.

If he cares so much about the removal of his grandfather's name from the airport, he should care just as much about the principles established by his father and grandfather instead of trying to make friends with those whose ambition it is to "eliminate the ROC."

John Chiang clearly has identity issues. Sadly, many of Taiwan's problems stem from the fact that it is full of people like him.

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