According to newspaper reports, when Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) met a delegation of pro-unification supporters from Taiwan in Beijing on Sept. 26, he said that Chinese and Taiwanese people should have a “spiritual contract.” Xi’s comment came like a bolt from the blue and left many people feeling shocked or flustered.
China’s former leaders have made threats about bloodshed. On many occasions, China has prevented Taiwan from taking its place on the world stage, using any means at its disposal, including belittling, oppressing, denigrating and isolating Taiwan.
Beijing wants to stop Taiwanese institutions from using any wording to do with “country” or “nation.”
The word “national” in the titles of Taiwanese universities or museums is anathema as far as China is concerned, and the same goes for university institutes of national development.
In China’s opinion the word “nation” can never be applied to Taiwan as a whole, or to any subordinate entity.
China never addresses any Taiwanese civil servant, from the president all the way down to cleaners and clerks, by their official titles, but only as plain old “you.”
The same rule applies to all official letters and documents sent from China to Taiwan. If, by chance, someone on the Chinese side at a conference calls a Taiwanese minister “minister,” the Taiwanese authorities are ecstatic and the media report it at great length. You would think they had found the Holy Grail — how pathetic.
Let us remember how Chinese diplomat Sha Zukang (沙祖康) insulted Taiwanese people by saying: “Who gives a fig about you?”
If Chinese athletes see Taiwanese team members carrying the national flag, they rush over and snatch it away. All these insults are backed up by nearly 2,000 missiles aimed in Taiwan’s direction, forcing the nation to accept the peculiar title of “Chinese Taipei.” In terms of personal behavior, it is tantamount to hurling insults, punching and kicking.
Taiwan lives next door to a burly thug who is always snarling and breathing down its neck, but now all of a sudden the thug is turning on the charm with talk of a “spiritual contract.” Anyone, man or beast, would be scared to death, or even run away screaming for help.
Even more unacceptable is the fact that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has gone out of his way to lay bare his inner thoughts, telling a German reporter that aligning itself with China was the nation’s only practical means of survival, and that Taiwan should learn from the experiences of the former West Germany in handling its relations with East Germany to achieve eventual unification.
Although Ma denied it later on, past experience suggests that it would be wiser to believe the Germans than the Presidential Office.
Xi also said that Taiwanese people should understand Chinese people’s feelings and respect their choices and ambitions. We know that Chinese people have been brainwashed for a long time and all believe that Taiwan should belong to China.
However, opinion polls indicate that more than 60 percent of Chinese, or two people out of every three, would prefer not to be Chinese in their next life. Figures show that the great majority of the top echelon of China’s rich and powerful have obtained foreign nationality or are preparing to do so. Most Chinese people do not want to be Chinese, but they want to force Taiwanese people to be Chinese. Where is the sense in that?
Listening to high-ranking Chinese officials takes a lot of nerve and as for listening to top Taiwanese officials, that requires the patience of a saint.
Peng Ming-min is a former presidential adviser.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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