Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another 1010

Another year, another Double-Ten day. This year though, without all the festivities, and just a low-key speech by President Ma Ying-jeou. Full transcript of the speech can be found here.

While it is the national day for the government of the Republic of China, through some twists and turns for Taiwan's history, it has become Taiwan's nationally recognized day as well. There's controversy over whether it was right for Ma Ying-jeou to decide whether or not to have normal parades and festivities for today, as well as those that may think we shouldn't even celebrate today, as it is the national day for the authoritarian regime that now occupies Taiwan.

Whatever the case may be, I think President Ma hit a good stride in this part of his speech, titled "Developing a Chinese culture with unique Taiwanese character." For this, I will just ignore the details about wording- whether it should be 'Taiwanese culture with unique Chinese character,' or whatever other combination of words you can put in there. Furthermore, putting aside details about how democratic reforms came about to the ROC government at the cost of Taiwanese lives. Here's Ma's opening for this part of his speech:

My dear friends, looking back over the 98 years of the Republic of China's history inspires a welter of contrasting feelings. Except for the "golden decade" immediately following the Northern Expedition, the 38 years during which the ROC government was based on the mainland was a period of incessant war and chaos that rendered people destitute and rootless and allowed little opportunity to put into practice the nation-building ideals of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Yet, over the six decades since the ROC government relocated to Taiwan, it has succeeded in carrying out land reform, implementing universal education, promoting economic growth, erecting a social welfare system and instituting democratic constitutional government.

After these 60 years of national development, Taiwan has a robust middle class, enjoys an open and free media environment, and has a healthy civil society in which environmental awareness has taken root, while community-building and volunteerism have developed at a lively pace. Step by step, we have created a Chinese culture with a unique Taiwanese character--a heritage belonging to all of us and in which we all can take pride.

During the past six decades, the histories and cultures of the Republic of China and Taiwan have become thoroughly intertwined. In this context, "Taiwan spirit" is not a vapid slogan, but is concretely embodied in the values and character of those who have struggled for this land.

The great thing I see about this part of his speech is the recognition that Taiwan's history is more than just when their government, the R.O.C., decided to occupy Taiwan. It started long before then, with roots of our culture tracing back to the Japanese occupation and before. If Ma is being honest here, and not just throwing more "Taiwanese" into his speeches for the upcoming elections, then I applaud him here.

It is as much of a call towards the pan-green side to recognize that the future of Taiwan includes those that came to Taiwan in 1949, as it is a call on the pan-blue side to recognize that the future cannot be determined simply by their rule, but those that have inhabited Taiwan for centuries before. The future of Taiwan depends on the both greens, blues, independents, because at this point in each of our lives, we all have stakes in the future of Taiwan.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Thanks for the post. I agree with your take on it.

I’m a little suspicious of Ma, after his campaign was full of “Taiwan” references and then his presidency has been full of “China” and “ROC” with relatively little mention of Taiwan, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this time. Either way, it was a well worded opening.