President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday presided over a ceremony in honor of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi, 黃帝), the mythical ancestor of the Han Chinese, drawing criticism from opposition politicians who slammed it as a move that demonstrated Ma’s hidden goal of “ultimate unification” with China.
Attended by Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Judicial Yuan President Rai Hau-min (賴浩敏), Control Yuan President Wang Chien-hsien and other Cabinet members, Ma led a memorial ceremony held at Taipei Martyrs’ Shrine for the legendary Yellow Emperor, the second time since Ma took office in 2008.
Ma is the first president to preside over such a commemorative ceremony for the Yellow Emperor since Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan in 1949.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday said the government’s “worship” of the Yellow Emperor demonstrated Ma’s genuine identification with China, adding that the president sought to trace his ancestry to China through the ritual ceremony.
“Ma has culturally traced his ancestry to China by touting the ‘one China, two areas’ concept, suggesting that he regards the Han [Chinese] culture as the entirety of Taiwanese culture and exposing his China-centric arrogance,” Chen said.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chung (蔡其昌) questioned how Ma had the time to worship the Yellow Emperor when public outrage is mounting over surging commodity prices.
Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) also criticized Ma over the ceremony, saying it was China-centric and demonstrated the president’s intention of “ultimate unification.”
Cheng Ching-jen (鄭欽仁), a retired history professor from National Taiwan University, raised concerns over the case, saying the KMT was “singing in chorus with the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] to push a ‘unification of the mind.’”
All the past dynasties in China had maintained that the Yellow Emperor founded China as a nation more than 5,000 years ago, Cheng said, adding that the hidden agenda of those empires was to rationalize their acts of aggression and annexations of other nations by citing the myth as their “legitimacy of inheritance” that all ethnicities came from the “same blood line.”
This notion was maintained even under the governance of the CCP, which advocated official atheism, Cheng said, suggesting that China is using the myth to legitimize its ambition of unification with Taiwan.
“President Ma should propagate Taiwan’s democracy, liberalism, human rights doctrine, as well as the concept of ethnic equality to China, rather than attempting to achieve a ‘unification of the mind’ by chanting nationalism or the myth of the Yellow Emperor in chorus with China,” Cheng said.
The sight of Ma mobilizing high-ranking officials to administer the ritual as if it were a national ceremony was absurd, Cheng said, adding that the ritualism was a hangover from Chiang’s totalitarian regime and a tool of “political brainwashing.”
In response, the Presidential Office denied that the ceremony was politically motivated.
The Yellow Emperor is an ancestor of all zhonghua minzu (中華民族), or “Chinese people,” the Presidential Office said.
The Presidential Office also said that ancestor-worship was of the utmost importance to the Chinese people and is also a significant part of the national virtues of Taiwanese which transcends politics.