Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fan Lan Ching, Lin Cho-shui and Chen Shui-bian

Fan Lan Ching, Lin Cho-shui and Chen Shui-bian
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
March 24, 2009

If someone were to tell you that Fan Lan Ching, Lin Cho-shui, and Chen Shui-bian have a lot in common, would you believe it?

First let's look at Fan Lan Ching and Lin Cho-shui. Fan Lan Ching wrote an article dealing with 2/28, in which he argued on behalf of Chen Yi. He wrote, "Chen Yi was an upright official who cared for the people." Lin Cho-shui, in his new book, "The Theater of History" wrote, "Chen Yi has long been the designated villain. Corrupt, incompetent, authoritarian, and brutal, all rolled into one. Most people think he is the chief culprit behind the 2/28 Incident. But this is not Chen Yi's true face. I found myself unable to go along with this view of him, and was surprised to find that Chen Yi and his administration were good officials seldom found in Chinese politics." Lin Cho-shui agreed that "Chen Yi was extremely honest and never violated the law.'

Fan Lan Ching and Lin Cho-shui have different views on the overall significance of the 2/28 Incident of course. But the two men actually share many views about Chen Yi. Not every view, but some of the most important views. Lin Cho-shui said that after intensive reading and interviewing many respected elders, he was surprised to learn this. Fan Lan Ching probably knew all this. Lin Cho-shui and Fan Lan Ching, a.k.a. Kuo Kuan-ying, are about the same age. Both have conducted in-depth investigations of Taiwan's politics and history. Yet both have arrived at the same conclusion about Chen Yi. Is that not surprising?

A proper evaluation of Chen Yi's place in history is difficult. But how one perceives Chen Yi and 2/28 need not bear any relationship to whether one advocates Taiwan independence. Taiwan independence rhetoric distorts the meaning of 2/28 in order to justify independence. In order to distort the meaning of 2/28, Taiwan independence advocates attribute all manner of evil to Chen Yi. Lin Cho-shui wants to reverse this distorted assessment of Chen Yi. He wants to correct Taiwan independence advocates' perception of 2/28. He says "2/28 was a predestined historical tragedy." This is Fan Lan Ching/Kuo Kuan-ying's view as well. He too considers 2/28 an "historically predetermined tragedy," a legacy of the Opium War and the KMT vs. CCP Civil War.

Lin Cho-shui is the "Master Theoretician of the Taiwan independence Movement." Yet decades later, he has made these surprising discoveries about Chen Yi. Alas, the Taiwan independence movement long ago decided to make Chen Yi the designated villain. It has used 2/28 as an excuse to divide society and the nation. Fan Lan Ching's thinking is different because he has a different understanding of history. He does not think Chen Yi was so villainous. He does not think hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of people died during the incident. Fan made note of 800 mainlanders and 1000 Taiwanese killed or wounded. He also disagrees with the Taiwan independence movement's spin on 2/28. Differing perceptions about the truth of 2/28 hardly end with Chen Yi.

Even more surprising is the fact that Chen Shui-bian shares many of the same views as Fan Lan Ching. Fan Lan Ching says the "Republic of China" is merely "Chinese territory occupied by the US." He says "Taiwan is a renegade Chinese province. It has no existence. It is not a province, because the provincial government has been dissolved. Still less is it a nation. It is a mere apparition." On the one hand, such arguments constitute opposition to Taiwan independence. On the other hand, they sing the same tune as Taiwan independence. They too repudiate the Republic of China. Chen Shui-bian denies that Taiwan is part of China. But he agrees with Fan Lan Ching when he says "What the hell is the Republic of China anyway?" and "The Republic of China is dead!" Their language is nearly identical. So why has Fan Lan Ching been removed from office, while Chen Shui-bian still enjoys the privileges of a former President?

Fan Lan Ching's views regarding 2/28 have been characterized as "insults to Taiwan." But if so, what are we to make of Lin Cho-shui's nearly identical views? Furthermore, if we can change our view of Chen Yi, why can't we change our view of 2/28? Why can't we perceive 2/28 in the same light as Lin Cho-shui, as a "predestined historical tragedy?" If we make the 2/28 Incident a hostage to Taiwan independence mythology, we will never learn the truth about 2/28, and Chen Shui-bian and Fan Lan Ching will dog us forever.

For mid-level civil servant Kuo Kuan-ying to discuss state affairs in such terms under a pen name is indeed questionable. But it hardly compares with President Chen Shui-bian open declaration that "The Republic of China is dead!" Chen makes Fan look like a piker. Tit for tat. You want to destroy the Republic of China, and I will show no mercy towards Taiwan. Emotions run higher and higher. The language becomes more and more outrageous. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Chen Shui-bian and Fan Lan Ching are two mutually destructive extremes.

Fortunately, Chen Shui-bian and Fan Lan Ching constitute a tiny minority. Apart from the likes of Kuan Bi-ling, few people want to use the Fan Lan Ching incident as an excuse to take sides.

Most people hope that Taiwan and the Republic of China can coexist.

2009.03.24 04:47 am











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