Wed, Jun 06, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Time for Taiwan to define history

By Jerome Keating

Fifth, the acceptance of a “one China” principle has two aspects. First, it is an acceptance that you cannot have two countries with the same name. There cannot be two Chinas, thus one of the two countries would need a new name. And second, to accept or acknowledge that the PRC believes that the definition of “one China” includes Taiwan does not mean that one agrees with that definition and what it includes. It simply means that one acknowledges that this is what the PRC happens to believe, however misguided that might be.

Identity is something that both evolves and is discovered. One often discovers it by going where one has to go. So, as Taiwanese take the path of interpreting their past and their identity, there will for sure be many other items and perspectives that they, the Taiwanese lions, will want to include in this discourse.

One such might be that they will eventually need a new name, a name that no longer conflicts with the fact that there can only be one China. However, the important thing is that they now realize that they can set the tone and direction of this discourse, that they with their newly won democracy, must take responsibility for their future.

Others might be undecided, but the Taiwanese are the ones who can decide (even if it means maintaining an ambiguous “status quo”). They can no longer accept the histories or definitions of others, or of outsiders, however related they might be.

Until the lions have historians, the tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.

Jerome Keating is a commentator in Taipei.

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