Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Lesson 1: Which one is our country?

By Michelle Wang 王美琇

So many strange phenomena are considered normal in Taiwan that people have become numb to the situation. This month has been filled with lies about the nation. One way to reach normality could be to deconstruct all these lies and come out of the numbness.

In an interview with Japanese media earlier this month, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said: “The Chinese mainland is the territory of the Republic of China.” The Chinese-language Liberty Times, the Taipei Times’ sister publication, criticized the statement, but most other media outlets simply ignored it.

Could anything like this occur if Taiwan were a normal country? Why do we tolerate a national leader who has such a muddled understanding of what constitutes the nation’s sovereign territory? How can we go on living in a country with such a muddled national awareness, as if everything is fine and then call ourselves “citizens”? Citizens of what country?

“Know your country” is the kind of common-sense knowledge that should be given in elementary school. It is a basic understanding that any citizen of any normal country must have. Maybe every Taiwanese needs to read up on civic education: Lesson 1: Which one is our country?

Which is our country? Taiwan? The Republic of China? During international sports events, have you ever heard “Taiwan” or “the Republic of China” mentioned? No. Is there a country called Taiwan among the 192 members of the world’s largest club of nations, the UN? No.

In the international community, there is no nation named Taiwan, and the Republic of China has long been dead in the world community. For the time being, our country has seven or eight different names, but with Chinese manipulation, and Ma’s tacit approval, this number is slowly being reduced to one: “Taipei, China.” Pray tell, is this a normal country?

Why does Ma say the relationship between Taiwan and China is not a state-to-state relationship, but a “practical relationship?” What does that mean? Which is Ma’s country? What is his idea of a country? What is the problem with our country?

The truth has been deliberately covered up for 60 years. Let’s open the Pandora’s box of “national truth.”

The first truth about the nation is the current national title — the “Republic of China” — is a name whose use is restricted to Taiwan. The “China” that the world outside of Taiwan recognizes is the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and not the Republic of China (ROC). This is international political common sense, and it is also the political reality. Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) refuse to accept this reality, and the “China” they talk about is the Republic of China. Ma is using this surrealist lie to rule and control the Taiwanese.

After the KMT fled from China in 1949 and occupied Taiwan, it forced the national title, flag and Constitution on Taiwan without the approval of the Taiwanese public. In 1971, the ROC was expelled from the UN and the UN seat was transferred to the PRC, thus issuing an international death sentence to the ROC. From that day onward, the ROC was a name used to deceive Taiwanese and protect the KMT’s national title and Chinese legal system.

Even today, in the 21st century, Ma and the KMT’s idea of our country is that it is China. They believe that the ROC represents China, and that this is an unshakable “legal fact.” This legal perception runs counter to internationally perceived wisdom and political realities. It is holding the Taiwanese people hostage to the ROC and makes it impossible to establish a new country under the name “Taiwan.”

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