Wed, Oct 12, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Not necessary to celebrate National Day, academic says

By Wu Po-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwan does not need to celebrate the Republic of China’s (ROC) National Day, because the ROC is a colonial “settler state,” an academic said, adding that the nation should instead focus on developing stronger links with the local cultures and pursue international recognition as “Taiwan.”

Lee Hsiao-feng (李筱峰), a professor of history at National Taipei University of Education, questioned the relevance of National Day ceremonies by quoting Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) as saying in 1950: “Our Republic of China had fallen last year with the fall of the mainland. We are today a people without a nation.”

Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule at the time of the ROC’s founding after the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 and the draft Constitution of 1936 did not include Taiwan as part of the ROC’s territory, Lee said.

The then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s rule over Taiwan falls under US sociologist Ronald Weitzer’s theory of the “settler state,” which are built by “migrant groups who assume a superordinate position vis-a-vis native inhabitants,” Lee said.

Lee also commented on Internet memes saying that the Manchus were massacred by Han Chinese during the revolution.

More than 20 southern provinces in China individually declared their independence during the revolution, Lee said.

Although there were sporadic anti-Manchu outbursts, Lee said that since the majority of the Manchu people lived in the north, those attacks were not widespread or comprehensive, and therefore no genocide of the Manchu people took place.

Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), director of the Taiwanese history program at National Chengchi University, also dismissed the notion of a genocide of Manchus, saying: “Manchu resistance to the revolution did lead to casualties, but there was no genocide of the Manchu to speak of and it is not a subject of research in the academia.”

Although the revolution was racially charged, after the ROC’s founding, the constitutionalist faction became the major political force and adopted a more ethnically inclusive program, as evidenced by the change from the slogan “expel the northern barbarians and restore the Chinese nation” to “five races under one union,” Hsueh said.

“This paradigm shift signified that the republic had moved away from the ethnic purges that were common during dynastic revolutions of the past,” Hsueh said.

The killing of Manchu people is a responsibility that the ROC has to bear and transitional justice would require China to adopt “constitutional changes” over the harm it inflicted, said Hua Yih-fen (花亦芬), a professor of history at National Taiwan University.

Hua said it is understandable that many people feel indifferent toward the ROC’s National Day.

However, she said that as drastic changes would entail “huge political costs,” the nation should chart “a pragmatic course to gradually improve Taiwan’s formal recognition in the international community.”

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