Double Ten Day, Oct. 10 every year, is an important day for Taiwan, as it marks the Republic of China’s (ROC) National Day.
Major holidays are usually a time for celebration and commemorative activities, but among all the clamor and excitement, Double Ten reflects one essential fact: that Taiwan is still not a normalized society.
As usual, there was a large parade in front of the Presidential Office Building, displaying to the world Taiwan’s social diversity and its soft and hard power, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) gave an address, relaying her message to the nation and to the world, while the southern port city of Kaohsiung put on a large fireworks display, all to show that Double Ten was our National Day.
However, in this diverse and divided country, there were those who disagreed, as pro-independence groups were saying that Double Ten should not be considered our national day. They prefer to see another day, such as Sept. 8 — the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951, when Taiwan threw off the shackles of imperial Japan — as Taiwan’s national day.
China celebrates Oct. 10 as the anniversary of the start of the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, holding major events to mark every 10th anniversary. This year was the 110th anniversary, and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) marked the occasion by saying that Chinese Communist Party members are the “most loyal heirs” of ROC founder Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), that the Taiwanese independence movement would be judged by history and that the “motherland” would realize its “historic mission” of unification.
Sun went to school and university in Hong Kong, which used to celebrate a different national day from China’s, Oct. 1. Now that Hong Kong has been absorbed into China, and has the National Security Law covering it, Hong Kong’s own celebrations are almost a thing of the past.
The international reaction to Taiwan’s Double Ten celebrations was positive, with allies including the US, Canada and countries in the EU expressing their support.
India was particularly supportive, with many Indian media outlets reporting on Taiwan’s birthday. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party had posters congratulating Taiwan put up in the area around the Chinese embassy in Delhi. Indians posted Taiwan’s flag on Twitter as well, along with a birthday cake in the shape of a “Double Ten” Chinese character, which made Beijing hopping mad.
The American Institute in Taiwan and the German Institute Taipei posted messages wishing Taiwan a happy Double Ten Day, avoiding mention of the words “national day,” in line with convention.
There is no doubt that China’s intimidation of Taiwan and its intrusions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) increased the tension in the Taiwan Strait and drove much international attention to Tsai’s national day address.
She responded to Xi in a general way by reassuring the international community that “[w]e call for maintaining the status quo.” Addressing the domestic audience, she touched on the issue of change and renewal, and called on “forging a stronger consensus: standing united to protect Taiwan.”
The address had a consistent tone, but between the lines she pointed to several fundamental facts.
The basic one is that the annexation of Taiwan is China’s ambition, but there is no aggression against China on Taiwan’s part. Thus, Tsai’s declaration of “four commitments” — “our enduring commitment to a free and democratic constitutional system, our commitment that the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China should not be subordinate to each other, our commitment to resist annexation or encroachment upon our sovereignty, and our commitment that the future of the Republic of China (Taiwan) must be decided in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people” — are simply a discourse based on the existence of a de facto state.
Comments by several pundits have put their attitudes and shortcomings on full display. Some have said that Tsai’s mentioning of the ROC and the People’s Republic of China in the same sentence, and adding that the two “should not be subordinate to each other,” while only referring to “China” without adding “mainland,” is a new “two-state theory.”
This is just fear of offending China and Beijing, and only serves to highlight that they think China can do no wrong. It is simply a severe case of Stockholm syndrome.
Similarly, Tsai’s emphasis on the ROC having been in Taiwan for 72 years instead of referring back to the Xinhai Revolution has been criticized as cutting its history short, which only shows that these people are out of touch with Taiwanese society. The false criticism that the new history curriculum has resulted in junior-high school students not knowing who Sun is comes from a similar mindset.
No matter how divided Taiwanese society is, it is important to be able to distinguish between friend and foe. This not only demonstrates a person’s character, but also concerns the safety and security of the country.
Still, at least 30 Taiwanese artists have been accused of celebrating China’s national day on Oct. 1, singing “Happy birthday to the People’s Republic of China” while remaining quiet on Double Ten National Day.
Not only are they focusing on their private interests over doing what is right, they are also confusing friend with foe.
More importantly, no matter how political parties fight each other, they must never lose their basic loyalty to the country and must be united toward the outside world, especially in the face of external enemies. This is a matter of basic political morality and a necessary element to establish a foothold for Taiwan.
Last month, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said that for Taiwan to become even better, there should be more political parties that could compete to form a government, and expressed a hope that a strong opposition party loyal to Taiwan would soon emerge.
This time, the leaders of the three main opposition parties attended the celebration in front of the Presidential Office Building, and Tsai invited them to agree to her four commitments and face China together.
One can only hope that these party chairs, especially the one of the ruling party, will continue to take practical action to resolve Taiwan’s internal conflicts on the basis of solidarity and unity.
If former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Xi could meet, what is the deep hatred between Taiwan’s political parties that prevents their chairpersons from sitting down to discuss national issues?
Since Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) can repeatedly emphasize the need to “seek common ground while reserving differences” with China, why is it so difficult for the ruling and opposition parties to compromise and cooperate based on the nation’s overall interests?
Distinguishing between friend and foe, and recognizing domestic conflicts are the most important tasks if Taiwan is to resist its great and evil neighbor. Political parties and politicians must stop refusing to differentiate between friend and foe and forgetting their basic loyalty to the nation’s citizens.
The New York Times reported that friction between the US and China has reached dangerous levels, and that Taiwan is at the center of the confrontation.
The intrusion of a large number of Chinese military aircraft in Taiwan’s ADIZ, although not an indication that there is a threat of imminent war in the Taiwan Strait, is a signal from Beijing that it intends to annex Taiwan, and that it does not rule out doing so by military force.
That there are so many interpretations of a Double Ten National Day address shows that Taiwan has yet to become a normal nation and a normal society.
With the growing Chinese threat, all political parties and politicians should take practical action to show that they stand united to protect Taiwan, and leaders of civil society should urge them to do so.
Translated by Paul Cooper and Perry Svensson
Russian President Vladimir Putin is an expert at bluffing and keeping the West on its toes, pushing relations to the edge before pivoting without warning. However, hemmed in and fuming, he is deadly serious about being heard on Ukraine. Those close to the Kremlin said that the Russian president does not want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he is ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the NATO in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia. After years of disillusionment
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) sixth plenary session has ended and from all appearances, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has set the stage to rule for the rest of his life. Some might be tempted to declare that this calls for Xi to do a victory lap, but all is not well on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. To parody a line from Ya Got Trouble, a song from Broadway musical The Music Man: “There’s trouble in River City, (aka, Beijing). Trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with C for CCP.” Why? Taking control of a nation is always much
Among the voices expressing concern for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (彭帥) over the past two weeks, one was barely audible — that of her long-time former doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇). Following their defeat in the WTA Finals championship match in Mexico on Nov. 18, Taiwan’s Hsieh and her Belgian partner Elise Mertens fielded questions via a Zoom call. Chinese state media had just released an incredibly suspicious e-mail, purportedly from Peng, and Canadian tennis Web site Open Court broached the issue. With the entire tennis world chiming in, seeking Hsieh’s opinion seemed obvious. However, the Web site’s reporter prefaced her question
When analyzing Taiwan-China tensions, most people assume that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) consists of rational actors. Embedded within this belief are three further suppositions: First, Beijing would only launch an attack on Taiwan if it were in China’s national interest; second, it would only attack if the odds were overwhelmingly in its favor; and third, Chinese decisionmakers interpret information objectively and through the same lens as other actors. These assumptions have underpinned recent analyses — including by Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) — concluding that there is no