We Look Forward to the DPP Actually Defending the ROC National Flag
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 1, 2012
Summary: The London Olympics has opened to much fanfare. At such a moment the ruling and opposition parties ought to demonstrate unity. But politicians on Taiwan are nothing if not quarrelsome. The Republic of China national flag was unexpectedly taken down on London's Regent Street. This touched off a ruling vs. opposition party war of words. Saliva flew. But if this flag can make the DPP examine its own position, maybe it was a good thing.
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The London Olympics has opened to much fanfare. At such a moment the ruling and opposition parties ought to demonstrate unity. But politicians on Taiwan are nothing if not quarrelsome. The Republic of China national flag was unexpectedly taken down on London's Regent Street. This touched off a ruling vs. opposition party war of words. Saliva flew. But if this flag can make the DPP examine its own position, maybe it was a good thing.
Ideally in politics, political parties will argue among themselves at home, but will maintain a united front in international diplomatic venues. Hopefully they will pull together, or at least avoid badmouthing each other in public. Recently Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Israel. His purpose was to highlight his qualifications as a national leader. But while in Israel. he challenged the policies of U.S. President Barack Obama. He unwittingly touched a raw nerve in Middle East politics. He violated the rule that American politicians must not criticize their own government's policies while abroad. If his trip is deemed "international politics for domestic consumption," it may hurt Romney's election prospects.
Unfortunately, Taiwan has a long tradition of running off and crying to foreigners. This was perhaps understandable under martial law. But it has actually worsened since democratization. Our diplomatic plight has not unified the ruling and opposition parties. On the contrary, it has become a bone of contention. It has become a weapon to attack one's opponent. Su Tseng-chang blasted the KMT. He accused the KMT of failing to defend the ROC national flag. Although he was sounding off at home, he was touching on Taiwan's complex international plight.
Su Tseng-chang's "defend the flag" rhetoric is nothing new. Whenever the ROC national flag is forcibly taken down in an international venue. the pro-Taiwan independence Democratic Progressive Party inevitably opens fire. In fact, the DPP's behavior is a classic case of "waving the national flag to oppose the national flag." The DPP remains mired in the martial law era. It still equates the ROC national flag with the KMT party flag. It contemptuously refers to it as the "automotive wheel brand flag." In recent years, the ROC national flag has become the common denominator in Taiwan society. The Green Camp puts on a show of "defending the flag." But in its heart of hearts, it is actually attempting to undermine the Republic of China. What it really means is that "Your automotive wheel brand flag has been rejected by the international community!"
Su Tseng-chang's "defend the flag" rhetoric was a little different from previous Green Camp rhetoric. Writing in FaceBook, he said, "The flag is the symbol of the nation. Those who love this country must defend its dignity." This remark is not wrong. So why has it provoked such widespread controversy?
The answer is obvious, Political parties and politicians should say what they mean, and mean what they say. Su Tseng-chang loudly proclaimed his desire to defend the dignity of the flag. But one never sees a single ROC national flag at DPP mass rallies. One cannot find a single ROC national flag at DPP headquarters. How can Su Tseng-chang convince anyone he is really defending the ROC national flag?
The KMT has criticized him for this. What was Su Tseng-chang's response? He said that at home people may have different views of the national flag. He said this was the natural result of having a democratic and pluralistic society. He said that abroad however, we must defend the national flag. Frankly this rhetoric was highly dubious. The DPP was in office for eight years. Chen Shui-bian was not the "President of Taiwan." He was the President of the Republic of China. The Democratic Progressive Party has already accepted the national flag, the national anthem, and various national symbols. What "different views on the national flag" are there to talk about? If some political parties refuse to grant the ROC national flag the dignity it deserves on Taiwan, how can they demand that others grant it dignity on the international stage?
Most people do not flaunt the symbols of their nation in their daily lives. Most citizens' patriotism is reactive in nature. Someone from the Taiwan Region of the Republic of China may achieve some sort of international recognition. The Republic of China may experience some sort of setback. At times such as these, people are moved when they see the flag. The London Olympics flag removal incident attracted public attention. The reason was that most people consider the ROC flag the symbol of our nation. The Democratic Progressive Party talks about creating a national consensus. Yet it remains blind to this very consensus.
To be fair, Su Tseng-chang's attitude has changed somewhat. He recently attended a Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting. He joined Junior Chamber of Commerce members in bowing before the ROC national flag and Sun Yat-sen's portrait three times. This is still rare among DPP officials. Therefore, we would like to believe that Su Tseng-chang's remarks were not hypocrital or opportunisitic. Can the DPP rid itself of its rigid ideology? Over the past few years the party has become increasingly extremist. Naturally everyone is adopting a wait and see attitude.
The DPP must remember we can only have one national flag, just as we can only have one Republic of China. Our nation must endure hardships in the international arena. But the DPP and the public on Taiwan. have no other choice. We must defend the ROC national flag. We must enable the Republic of China take its place on the international stage, and find its place in the international community.