ROC Flag Appears at Diaoyutai Protest in Beijing
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 18, 2012
Summary: On Saturday, September 15, Diaoyutai Islands defense movement activists protested in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. A red, white, and blue ROC flag appeared at the scene. Activists waved the giant flag for at least ten minutes, long enough for reporters from Taiwan to notice it and photograph it. The government on the Mainland underwent a change in 1949. This is probably the first time since then that the national flag of the Republic of China has appeared in broad daylight on the streets of Beijing.
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On Saturday, September 15, Diaoyutai Islands defense movement activists protested in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. A red, white, and blue ROC flag appeared at the scene. Activists waved the giant flag for at least ten minutes, long enough for reporters from Taiwan to notice it and photograph it. The government on the Mainland underwent a change in 1949. This is probably the first time since then that the national flag of the Republic of China has appeared in broad daylight on the streets of Beijing.
On August 15, Diaoyutai Islands defense movement activists set sail from Hong Kong on the Chi Feng 2. They carried with them onto the Diaoyutai Islands two national flags. They carried with them the red, white, and blue ROC flag with them on their own initiative. This reflected a grassroots awareness of a "Big Roof China." This was not a "ploy to promote reunification" choreographed by Beijing officials. The national security system concluded that "The ROC national flag is being used as a tool to promote reunification." This newspaper published an editorial expressing disagreement.
Last Saturday Diaoyutai Islands defense movement activists waved a giant ROC national flag in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. That may have been an officially choreographed "ploy to promote reunification." Protesters also carried a 10 meter long banner reading, "The two sides of the Strait are one family. Brothers may bicker at home, but unite against outside aggressors." This was a verbatim quote from Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office. As a result, one cannot help feel differently about the flag waved on the streets of Beijing, and the flag waved on the Diaoyutai Islands.
We think the flag waved on the Diaoyutai Islands shows the respect ordinary citizens on both sides of the Strait have for the "Big Roof China." Their actions are not necessarily motivated by political advantage. Therefore they are particularly worth cherishing. But the flag waved on the streets of Beijing may have been the result of official calculation. Therefore we may need to factor that in when we interpret the political impact.
Consider the upside. Suppose the appearance of this flag was the result of official arrangements. That means Beijing at least accepts that the ROC national flag represents the Republic of China. On August 16, the Global Times, a publication of the People's Daily Syndicate, published photos of the national flag of the Republic of China on the Diaoyutai Islands. Such thinking does that one better. This may be a small step. But we hope it will impact Beijing's larger Taiwan policy.
Consider the downside. Suppose Beijing was merely using the Diaoyutai Islands conflict as a political ploy. Suppose it was merely using the national flag of the Republic of China as a "ploy to promote reunification?" Such political calculation would probably provoke greater antipathy and resentment among the public on Taiwan.
The two sides do not recognize each others' national titles, national flags, and official titles. This is mainly because Beijing does not accept the Republic of China's legal system. Several years ago the Mainland authorities protested the appearance of the red, white, and blue ROC national flag at international sporting events. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics the Olympic torch was supposed to transit Taiwan. But word emerged that Beijing actually wanted to prohibit the display of ROC national flags along the torch route. When cross-Strait exchanges were initiated and Mainland VIPs first arrived, Beijing wanted Taiwan hosts to cover up the ROC flags. Last month during the London Olympics, a red, white, and blue ROC national flag also had to be taken down on Regent Street. Given that cross-Strait exchanges having evolved to where they are today, are such moves irrational? Or are they merely obtuse?
Consider this distinctly disturbing scenario. Last Saturday a red, white, and blue ROC national flag appeared in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Does Beijing recognize this flag or not? If not, then why use it as part of a "ploy to promote reunification?" If it persists in using it as a "ploy to promote reunification," won't it have the opposite effect on the public on Taiwan?
Beijing hopes Taipei will uphold its "one China Constitution." But how can it simultaneously repudiate the ROC flag? Beijing should realize that "Taiwan is the water. The Republic of China is the glass. As long as the glass remains, the water remains. Shatter the glass, and the water spills everywhere." This is the "glass theory" championed by this newspaper. Does Beijing agree that "The Republic of China is part of China?" If not, how can it make the public on Taiwan accept "China?" How can it make Taiwanese see themselves as "Chinese?" Consider the two national flags under a "Big Roof China" landing simultaneously on the Diaoyutai Islands. Don't Chinese people the world over take such an image for granted?
On September 15, the red, white, and blue ROC flag appeared in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. If it was merely a "ploy to promote reunification," then it was a big mistake. But if it represented a breakthrough in the Beijing authorities' thinking about cross-Strait political symbolism and cross-Strait policy, it is well worth encouraging.
The current conflict over the Diaoyutai Islands is having a significant impact on cross-Strait relations. One of the most important revelations is the emergence of the "Big Roof China" concept. Under the "Big Roof China" concept, the Republic of China is "democratic China." The People's Republic of China is "socialist China." Both are part of one China.
On August 15, the two national flags appeared on the Diaoyutai Islands. On September 15, the Republic of China flag appeared in front of the Japanese Embassy. This starts one thinking. These two scenarios confirm that the "Big Roof China" already exists and the "Big Roof China" must be maintained.
The day before yesterday ARATS President Chen Yunlin visited Kenting. An ROC national flag hung high above the entrance to the Cape Eulanbi Lighthouse. The photo even made the newspapers. "One's horizons determine one's world, one's ideas determine one's path." Is this merely one small step for Chen Yunlin? Or will it be one giant leap for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait?