Fri, Oct 04, 2013 - Page 8 News List


The reunification issue

On Tuesday, the Chinese Communist Party celebrated the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). For some of its spectators, the anniversary marks the victorious conclusion brought about by Mao Zedong (毛澤東) during the vicious civil war fought more than 60 years ago. However, for many other viewers, the anniversary is a stark and unfortunate reminder of the ousting of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his supporters as they relocated to Taiwan. In light of the celebrations, the overarching question of reunification between China and Taiwan lingers.

The 64th anniversary of the PRC is a celebration of Mao and his accomplishments. Immediately after Mao established his government, he set out to reunify China. However, Mao was stymied by then-US president Harry Truman who ordered the US Seventh Fleet to the Taiwan Strait — halting Mao’s plan of an amphibious assault on Taiwan. Decades later, as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) stood solemnly on the famed Tiananmen Square acknowledging the past accomplishments of the victorious revolutionary deeds of Mao, Taiwan remains a democratic and independent nation, a sobering reminder of Mao’s failure.

Even as steps are taken to resolve one of the most contentious legacies left by Mao, many still have mixed emotions regarding reunification. Heated debates abound over the most significant bilateral accord since the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) — the service trade agreement which would allow each side to invest in each other’s service sectors.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, who represent a significant number of the population, earlier last month sought to boycott a review of the service trade agreement. The party’s concern is that the agreement — which some observers view as China’s carrot-style approach toward reunification — may have an adverse effect on the local job market. A concern not without merit, it highlights anxieties over steps toward reunification.

Perhaps a more striking example of how reunification remains a pertinent issue can be seen in a piece penned by former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairman Nat Bellocchi. In the opinion piece published on Monday (“Beijing threatens freedom in Taiwan, Sept. 30, page 8), the former AIT chairman argues that Xi is engaged in ideological warfare, seeking to eradicate Western values and is a threat to the freedom of Taiwan.

Whether the Chinese president is actually engaged in ideological warfare lies outside the scope of this discussion. However, that discourse surrounding Taiwan’s reunification with China and its implications continues to emerge as a constant theme is evident.

Chinese leadership will continue to seek new ways in which to resolve one of Mao’s most contentious legacies. Conversely, people in Taiwan — many of whom identify themselves as Taiwanese — will seek to secure their ethnic identity, traditions, customs and political values. Succinctly stated, reunification between China and Taiwan is far from devolving into an inconsequential relic of the Cold War. The issue lingers to this day.

Mycal Ford

Greater Kaohsiung

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