Thu, May 19, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Chinese officials turn to mythical emperor

FLIP-FLOP :Under Mao Zedong, Yellow Emperor worship was seen as feudal superstition, but now the CCP says religion can be harnessed for social good

AFP, XINZHENG, China

Among those lighting incense in Xinzheng last month was the head of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

Similarly, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice chairman Chun Chun-po (詹春柏) attended another event at the reputed site of the emperor’s death in neigboring Shaanxi Province, telling local media: “As descendants of the Yellow Emperor, this is the happiest event in life.”

His remarks recalled those of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at last year’s first cross-strait summit since 1949 in Singapore when he said that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait were “of Chinese nationality” and “children of the Yellow Emperor.”

For his part Xi offered: “We are brothers connected by flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family whose blood is thicker than water.”

Both men’s declarations were disparaged by many Taiwanese, where Tsai’s message of Taiwanese identity resonated with voters and surveys show people feel increasingly separate from China, but on the other side of the strait, where the ruling party tightly controls presentations of history, there are few such concerns.

After the official ceremonies at the Shaanxi tomb complex — refurbished a decade ago at a cost of about 250 million yuan (US$38 million) — thousands of ordinary citizens poured in, many prostrating themselves before the emperor’s statue.

“He definitely existed, there are ancient books and bone carvings which prove it,” student Shen Yuyan said. “He’s the ancestor of all Chinese ethnic groups and of Taiwanese.”

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