Thu, Mar 07, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan — not Zhonghua — minzu

By Jerome Keating

With the downfall of the Qing in 1911, the term Zhonghua minzu gained in popularity and its manipulation began to spread.

Mongolia and Tibet wished to break free. However, then-Chinese president Yuan Shikai (袁世凱), who fancied himself as a new emperor, invoked Zhonghua minzu to keep Mongolia in the fold.

Time moved on and Taiwan was still not part of the Zhong-hua minzu scene. In 1935, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) sent Chen Yi (陳儀) over to watch the 40th anniversary of Japan’s rule on Taiwan. There was no cry for “return Taiwan” or to make it part of Zhonghua minzu.

Similarly, Mao Zedong (毛澤東), in talking to Edward Snow in the 1930s, advocated that Taiwan become independent of Japan. He supported a Taiwanese revolt, which would basically create an independent Taiwan.

After World War II, things took a different turn; Chiang pillaged Taiwan’s resources and would eventually use it as an escape base after he lost the Chinese Civil War.

However, Mongolia lucked out; the Soviet Union wished to have a nice buffer state between it and its Chinese comrades, and so it supported a referendum, which the Mongols won. Mongolia was no longer part of Zhonghua minzu.

There were still Mongols inside China in what is now called Inner Mongolia, but because they needed Soviet support, Mao and the CCP let Mongolia slip away.

Taiwan’s problems began in this period. When the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the Chinese Civil War, Chiang and the KMT fled to and occupied Taiwan with their one-party state. They still claimed they were the rightful rulers of all of China since their 1947 Republic of China (ROC) Constitution saw Taiwan and even Mongolia as spoils of war and part of the ROC.

The 1952 Treaty of San Francisco denied this; Japan did give up Taiwan, but did not specify a recipient. It was not part of either the ROC’s or the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) concept of Zhonghua minzu. The treaty did not recognize Taiwan as part of Zhonghua minzu.

In 1987, martial law was lifted in Taiwan and it became a democracy. It threw off the one-party state and talk of Taiwan’s de facto independence became realistic and more vocal.

On the other hand, the term Zhonghua minzu became a byword for those wanting to claim and subordinate Taiwan’s democracy.

The term again gained prominence with the bogus “1992 consensus” created in 2000 by then-Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起).

There was no consensus. On the ROC side there was “one China, with different interpretations” whereas on the PRC side, there was “one China, and time is running out for you to accept our interpretation.”

For the KMT, the term Zhonghua minzu took on special meaning. It signified that it did not really lose the civil war, and that it and the CCP were all fighting for the same thing. It became willing to trade Taiwan’s democracy for its version of Zhonghua minzu, where allegedly all are friends and can make money together.

Thus when the phrase is uttered, for Taiwanese, it means you will lose your democracy. The CCP want your land and your location. It can all be claimed in the spirit of Zhonghua minzu. In effect, it means that Taiwan’s democracy must be sacrificed for the “unity” of China.

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