Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday downplayed the controversy over the involvement of his father, Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), in activities marking the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in China, including his singing of China’s national anthem.
The footage of Hau Pei-tsun singing the Chinese anthem during a recent interview with China Central Television (CCTV) was ballyhooed by Chinese media, which has incurred criticism from lawmakers across party lines.
While lawmakers called Hau Pei-tsun’s deed inappropriate, the Taipei mayor said the song was originally a war song, before it became China’s national anthem.
Hau Pei-tsun, 95, served as the country’s chief of the general staff before he became minister of national defense and premier.
Hau Pei-tsun was in China to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the so-called July 7th Incident, which is considered to be the official start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Chinese official media was said to have repeatedly played the footage of him singing a part of the Chinese national anthem.
Hau Lung-bin yesterday came to his father’s defense by saying that everybody who participated in the anti-Japanese resistance movement during the war knows the song.
Now the Chinese national anthem, March of the Volunteers (義勇軍進行曲) was once a theme song for the Chinese anti-Japanese resistance during World War II, among Communists and Nationalists alike.
“My father also stressed that the animosity could be appeased, but history should return to facts,” Hau Lung-bin said, referring to remarks his father made when visiting the Anti-Japanese Aggression War Memorial Hall in Beijing.
Hau Pei-tsun was highlighting Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) efforts in the war against Japanese aggression, which have typically been minimized by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This is not the first time that the senior Hau has sung the song on a Chinese TV program. He made an appearance on Phoenix TV last year singing the song and said that it is conflicting for the CCP to make the song China’s national anthem, but at the same time “cover up the real history.”
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said yesterday that the former premier’s action is to some extent related to his son’s potential presidential election, intended “to show their goodwill to the Chinese government.”
“It is doubtful that Hau [Pei-tsun] would dare to sing the song during the time when he was the army commander-in-chief, the chief of the general staff, the defense minister or the premier,” Kao said.
“He emphasized it was a theme song of the anti-Japanese movement, but every [Taiwanese], let alone a person who held military power for years, knows it could have cost your life if you sang this song [before Martial Law was lifted],” he added.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) said that, as one of symbolic, key figures of the Republic of China army, Hau [Pei-tsun]’s singing of China’s national anthem “would confuse his proteges about who to fight for.”