You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or so the old saw goes. First coined in Medieval England, it fits present-day Taiwan and the perverse world of Taiwanese politics beautifully.
There is a clique of individuals in the nation, the “republican” old dogs, who have monopolized a routine of old tricks and continue to perform them for their own edification and self-justification.
The student-led Sunflower movement has no need to bandy around claims of representing anything new.
It is a genuinely new voice in the politics of the nation, a fresh bloom of new ideas with a new name, new demands, new ways to mobilize people, new leaders, and a new, entirely Taiwanese way of looking at the world.
All in all, it was responsible for the creation of a new page in the history of politics and social movements in Taiwan.
The imaginary edifice of the aforementioned reactionary old faction was torn down by the “communist bandit” Mao Zedong (毛澤東) back in 1949.
This group, however, refuse to let go of the past and insist on proclaiming a “new” May 4th Movement, distancing themselves from the Sunflower movement.
This gang are anti-democratic, referring to themselves with names such as the New Revolutionary Alliance (NRA, 新同盟會) — after Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) Tongmenghui alliance for democracy, which was the precursor of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) founded in 1905 — and the New Party and welcome with open arms their vision of a “new China” which would swallow up the present- day Taiwan.
The founding of the original May 4th Movement, opposed to the influence of foreign powers and powerful northern warlords and rejecting traditional Chinese feudal society, was a momentous revolutionary event in modern Chinese history, but it had precious little to do with Taiwan, which at the time was under Japanese rule.
Nevertheless, the Sunflower Movement, with its resistance to a “foreign” regime and its protest against a state prepared to do violence against its citizens, better represented the spirit of the original May 4th Movement, than the so-called New May 4th Movement did.
Now that Taiwan is in a modern, democratic era, this clique has commandeered the name of the association started by Sun — whom the Qing rulers had known as one of the Four Outlaws (四大寇) — establishing the NRA. The New Party is stuck in even more of a disconnected time warp. The old guard in the NRA and the New Party are little more than a reaction to the localization of the KMT and the Republic of China (ROC).
After President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) regained power for the KMT regime, this cabal — regardless of their desires to be seen as an entirely new entity — welcomed the “new China.”
Seeing the writing on the wall, having kept themselves in power for all this time in the name of the ROC, they are now starting to come clean, or making sure that their pensions are intact.
This bunch call the old new, but do not dare countenance anything new. When Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) went to Nanjing to represent the government, he heaped praise on the “outlaw” Sun. He also talked of the ROC and how it had existed for 103 years, not daring to admit that the original ROC had died a death at 38 years old, and now continues as the zombie usurper of a new land.
This zombie regime and the old guard, unwilling to let go of the past, are living off the nation as parasites, having grafted themselves onto a new host, claiming themselves to represent a new entity, as if this justifies their continued existence.
However, they stop short of proclaiming a “new ROC,” or identifing themselves as “New Taiwanese.”
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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