Monday, October 10, 2011

中华民国一百年 *English

Today, many Taiwanese and non Taiwanese and somewhere in between people around the world are celebrating the centenary of the founding of 中华民国 (the republic of China), which is now the official title of Taiwan. There are complexities about this which continue to be debated. Arguably Taiwan was separate from China since about 1680. However, what is clear is that the events of 100 years ago were highly significant in the forming of the amazing and unique country that we know as Taiwan today. 

Being from Australia, it's hard to see why there is so much controversy. Australia is just as new and few Australians look to their British ancestors (many of us don't even have British ancestors) in assessing our identity. We find it extremely hard to relate, I think, even to images and voices of the Australia of the 1950s. People change quickly. Language and culture change, perhaps even more quickly. Clinging to past associations, can bring only suffering.
Somehow I have to reconcile two contradictory urges. On the one hand, I hate nationalism and all it stands for. There is no satisfactory distinction between racism and nationalism, because no universally applicable definition of race exists that can stand independently of either culture or nationality and the phrases 'we are better' and 'they are inferior' ultimately convey exactly the same meaning. 
  On the other hand, I do love Taiwan. When I'm there I feel nothing by joy most of the time and when I meet Taiwanese people, wherever I am in the world, I feel drawn to them as if to my own family. 
  I wish nations didn't exist, I really do. They can't last forever and of course there will be a new world order in the future and probably sooner than we think. Will it be any better? It would be hard to do much worse and the programs of regional cooperation such as the EU are a good start, despite the complexities they involve. However, right now, in the context of how the world is, Taiwan is a bastion of inspiration, creativity, culture, friendship and education in a world where all these things are lacking. 

If new nations like Australia and East Timor can be internationally recognized, then surely Taiwan must also. Most nations are cowardly and two faced, treating Taiwan as a nation state, placing embassies and recognizing its passports while calling it part of China whenever the all powerful PRC happen to be watching. Citizens of the world need to make it clear to their governments that this kind of dishonesty and cowardice is unacceptable. Therefore, I hope that people will make a point by displaying Taiwan's national flag (you can copy and paste the one below) and making this an issue for public debate. 

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