Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s (吳伯雄) statement that Taiwan and China are two areas of one country has provoked a lot of controversy.
One would expect President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to have a good understanding of Chinese culture, judging by how often he urges everyone to read the classics. Yet Ma must take most of the blame for the current mess, because he dispatched Wu to propose this “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). While Taiwan’s pan-blue and pan-green political camps have their own opinions about what Wu was supposed to say, the leaders in Beijing probably do not like it either.
Why would the KMT think it could get the Communist Party (CCP) to deal with it on an area-to-area basis? In the Chinese Civil War, the CCP defeated the KMT, seized control of China’s Central Plain — the cradle of the Chinese nation — and established its capital in Beijing. This signified that the CCP had become the legitimate political power in China.
The victorious party had a certain respect for the KMT, which had also enjoyed the support of the Comintern in the past, so they recruited Soong Ching-ling (宋慶齡), widow of KMT and Republic of China (ROC) founder Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), to be honored as the mother of the nation. Every year, on important national holidays, such as National Day on Oct. 1 and International Workers’ Day on May 1, Sun’s portrait is prominently displayed in Tiananmen Square to show the world that the legacy of the 1911 Xinhai Revolution is now in the hands of the CCP. The CCP claims to be the successor to the Xinhai Revolution, even though it had not been founded when the revolution started.
Last year was the ROC’s centennial and it was celebrated by the CCP as the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution. Eventually, the KMT decided against joint commemorative activities with the CCP because they were afraid it would take the opportunity to further assume status as the legitimate successor of the revolution. On this point, Ma made a wise decision.
What is incomprehensible is why the KMT has lost its senses over the “one country, two areas” incident. If the KMT ponders upon its place in Chinese history it has to face up to the result of the Chinese Civil War, which is that the CCP regime became the legitimate government of China, while the KMT government ended up as a remnant state. As such, the ROC today is just like the Eastern Jin, Southern Song, Southern Ming and other remnant Chinese dynasties.
Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) says that the ROC can be viewed as including the whole of China, or as being so small that all it has left is Taiwan. Su says that this gives the country a lot of room to maneuver when handling cross-strait relations, but that is mere wishful thinking.
The tradition of legitimacy is deeply embedded in Chinese culture. For the CCP, “one country, two areas” means the legitimate government’s area on one hand and a remnant area on the other, and history tells us that the legitimate regime always ends up annexing the other. Unlike what Su imagines, there is no room to maneuver.
Chinese culture forms one part of Taiwanese culture, but Taiwan is certainly doomed if its national identity is absorbed into the Chinese historical framework. Besides, Taiwan today is a democracy, so the only source of legitimacy for a state authority comes from periodic democratic elections. It has nothing to do with China, but only with Taiwanese — on this point we must remain adamant.
Christian Fan Jiang is Deputy Secretary General of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Julian Clegg
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
In 1955, US general Benjamin Davis Jr, then-commander of the US’ 13th Air Force, drew a maritime demarcation line in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, known as the median line. Under pressure from the US, Taiwan and China entered into a tacit agreement not to cross the line. On July 9, 1999, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) described cross-strait relations as a “special state-to-state” relationship. In response, Beijing dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft into the Taiwan Strait, crossing the median line for the first time since 1955. The PLA has begun to regularly traverse the line. On Sept. 18 and 19, it
On Sept. 8, at the high-profile Ketagalan security forum, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged countries to deal with the China challenge. She said: “It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framework to generate sustained and concerted efforts to maintain a strategic order that deters unilateral aggressive actions.” The “Taiwan model” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic provides an alternative to China’s authoritarian way of handling it. Taiwan’s response to the health crisis has made it evident that countries across the world have much to learn from Taiwan’s best practices and if