Big Roof China: Democratic China and Socialist China
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 10, 2012
Summary: We must speak up for the Republic of China. We must shout "The Republic of China is a democratic China." The more loudly we shout it, the more we will inspire Chinese the world over. The more Chinese are inspired by the idea of the Republic of China as a democratic China, the more secure our status will be. This is how we must fight the battle for "one China, different interpretations."
Full Text below:
On August 15, The Chi Feng 2 departed from Hong Kong and reached the Diaoyutai Islands. The passengers carried with them red, white, and blue ROC flags and five star PRC flags. They waved these flags on the islands to dramatic effect. The next day Mainland media organizations outdid each other reporting the story. Sad to say, most of them useds PhotoShop to edit out the red, white, and blue ROC flag. This provoked a backlash from netizens on the Mainland. The two images, one with the ROC flag and one without, are worth contemplating. This is true for ROC officials and civilians alike.
Diaoyutai Island Defense Movement activists from Hong Kong took both the red, white, and blue ROC flag and the five star PRC flag with them to the islands. At first, people were surprised. But it did not take long before they understood. Hong Kong is located in the Pearl River estuary. It has witnessed two centuries of vicissitudes. It long ago transcended allegiance to either side. During the 50s and 60s, prior to its 1997 return to the Mainland, the streets of Hong Kong were often festooned with ROC flags on Double Ten National Day. To this day, the values held in Hong Kong are closer to those held on Taiwan than on the Mainland. The red, white, and blue ROC flag and the five star PRC flag were carried to the Diaoyutai Islands by private individuals from Hong Kong. They were not using the ROC national flag to "promote Chinese reunification." Their actions merely reflect the deep affection the people of Hong Kong feel for the ROC flag.
Mainland newspapers "airbrushed" the red, white, and blue ROC flag from the photograph of the Diaoyutai Islands landing. Mainland netizens denounced the newspapers' actions as "bogus" and "shameless." Later, one newspaper published a solemn apology. It acknowledged that it "hurt the feelings of readers." It acknowledged that "as a member of the Fourth Estate, it should never have allowed this to happen. When referring to the ROC, Mainland newspapers generally add scare quotes to "president," "Executive Yuan," and "legislators." This is another form of "airbrushing." After all, these government offices and government entities do exist on Taiwan. Interestingly enough, the Global Times, a sister publication of the People's Daily, published the photograph intact. It refrained from editing out the red, white, and blue ROC flag.
We must not exaggerate the significance of these two images. We must also acknowledge that the problem is one both sides share. Do citizens of the ROC realize the importance of the ROC to people on the Mainland and Hong Kong? Do citizens of the ROC realize they must make a place for the ROC in the hearts of people on the Mainland and Hong Kong?
The ROC government should stop saying that it "has no intention of joining forces with the Mainland against Japan" on the Diaoyutai Islands issue. It should use the issue as leverage. It should use the Diaoyutai Islands issue to steer cross-Strait relations in the right direction. President Ma proposed "three bilateral talks and one trilateral talk." By doing so he avoided tying his own hands. He avoided having to deny that he was joining forces with the Mainland against Japan. He implied the possibility of a "big roof" encompassing both Taiwan and the Mainland.
During the Cold War, the Republic of China referred to itself as "Free China." Actually, under martial law, Taiwan was not all that free. But it was free compared to the Mainland, with its protracted political struggles. Compared to the Mainland, society on Taiwan was imbued with a sense of justice, honor, even mission. It championed the idea of the "Three Peoples Principles unifying China." But the world changed, and the nation with it. The very concept of "China" has become anathema on Taiwan. This happened because when it comes to cross-Strait relations, people on Taiwan have lost confidence in themselves. They may even have lost their sense of self-esteem. Now when people from Hong Kong proudly carry the ROC flag to the Diaoyutai Islands, some people on Taiwan denounce them for "promoting Chinese reunification." Some people on Taiwan are afraid to compete with Beijing in defending the Diaoyutai Islands. Worse, they they are afraid even to accept a goodwill gesture from private citizens from Hong Kong, who proudly carried the ROC flag to the Diaoyutai Islands from Hong Kong. Under such circumstances, how can one not despair?
Two decades of Taiwan independence indoctrination have undermined the concept of "Free China." Meanwhile however, Taiwan independence is impossible. Therefore citizens of the Republic of China must attempt to establish a Chinese identity that people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Mainland can identify with.
As mentioned before, during the 50s and 60s, the Republic of China positioned itself as "Free China." It was not quite as free as the name implied. But today's Republic of China is unquestionably a "democratic China." It has the name. It also has the game. It can gain the respect of people from Hong Kong, overseas, and the Mainland.
People from Hong Kong proudly carried the red, white, and blue ROC flag with them to the Diaoyutai Islands. Mainland netizens angrily denounced Mainland newspapers for airbrushing the ROC flag out of Mainland news photos. This tells us that if citizens of the Republic of China want a solution to the cross-Strait stalemate, the answer is not to beg Uncle Sam. The answer is not to provoke Beijing. The answer is to appeal to the conscience and goodwill of Chinese people wherever they may be.
We must speak up for the Republic of China. We must shout "The
Republic of China is a democratic China." The more loudly we shout it,
the more we will inspire Chinese the world over. The more Chinese are
inspired by the idea of the Republic of China as a democratic China, the
more secure our status will be. This is how we must fight the battle
for "one China, different interpretations."
On August 15, based on the "big roof" concept, two flags were carried to the Diaoyutai Islands. One represented the ROC and democracy. The other represented the PRC and socialism. Together they represent the political thinking of most Chinese.
We must continue to shout out loud, "The Republic of China is a democratic China." If we do we will eventually win most Chinese the world over. But if we lack the courage to shout "The Republic of China is a democratic China," then no one will be able to prevent us from being airbrushed out of existence.