China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 2, 2015
Executive Summary: Lien Chan met with Xi Jinping yesterday in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. He used the occasion to air his personal views on the 70th anniversary of the War of Resistance Against Japan. A dispute between Taipei and Beijing over which regime led the war effort erupted during Lien's visit. President Ma, Hau Pei-tsun, and others uttered some harsh words. A few media organizations on the Mainland responded in kind. This made Lien Chan's visit to Beijing a sensitive matter, and magnifyied the impact of everything he said or did in Beijing. Permit us to say what we expect from Lien Chan's visit. Now that Lien Chan has made a formal declaration, this may be a good time to examine the matter.
Full Text Below:
Lien Chan met with Xi Jinping yesterday in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. He used the occasion to air his personal views on the 70th anniversary of the War of Resistance Against Japan. A dispute between Taipei and Beijing over which regime led the war effort erupted during Lien's visit. President Ma, Hau Pei-tsun, and others uttered some harsh words. A few media organizations on the Mainland responded in kind. This made Lien Chan's visit to Beijing a sensitive matter, and magnifyied the impact of everything he said or did in Beijing. Permit us to say what we expect from Lien Chan's visit. Now that Lien Chan has made a formal declaration, this may be a good time to examine the matter.
Basically we support Lien Chan's decision to visit Beijing and take part in the commemoration. Why? Because although we differ with Beijing about which regime led the war effort, the war ended 70 years ago. As we reflect upon this tragedy, one fact stands out. China today is no longer the "sick man of Asia" it was before the war. Taipei and Beijing should understand and reflect upon each other's contribution to the war effort. That is far more meaningful than stonewalling. Beijing is currently waging an all out propaganda campaign. If the KMT, the real hero of the war remains silent, it will be completely marginalized.
As one can easily imagine, Lien Chan's trip has been an arduous one. President Ma and Hau Pei-tsun have both expressed dissatisfaction with the way the CCP has belittled the KMT's role in the war. As a result, anyone who attends Beijing's commemorative ceremony will be seen as endorsing the CCP's spin on history. If Lien Chan wants to prove otherwise, he must speak out on behalf of Taipei. He must at least make clear that the KMT led the war effort, and made the Republic of China a founding member of the United Nations. These are intractable facts that cannot be denied. Lien Chan may not be the KMT's official spokesperson on the war. But he must at least speak up. Because on this occasion, only he has the chance to do so.
On Taiwan's ideological spectrum, only the blue camp takes the history of the war seriously. Many blue camp members hope the two sides can grow and prosper together, and bring about a rebirth of the Chinese nation. But they are pressured to deny that the KMT led the war effort, or even blank out the role of the Republic of China during World War II. That of course, is impossible. Historical facts cannot be denied. Neither can subjective memories. Much of this is intensely emotional. When Beijing made a movie called "The Cairo Conference", Chiang Kai-shek was not even on the movie poster. Those in charge may be motivated by political correctness. But the results of media spin control hurt many people's feelings. That is why Ma Ying-jeou and Hau Pei-tsun spoke out in such harsh terms.
Regrettably, Lien Chan failed to make these points during the Lien-Xi meeting. He make other points quite well. For example, he said "We can not bear to see a straightforward "Taiwan consciousness" misrepresented as separatist consciousness. That will result in lost opportunities for both sides and take us back to the old stand off," He also said "Taiwan must have confidence in the Mainland's reforms and liberalization. It must develop new markets. It must undergo transformation and upgrading. Its people must participate in regional economic integration and international activities. The two sides must improve communications, learn to work with each other, and find solutions to political problems." These are all arguments we have advanced repeatedly. But as we noted before, Lien Chan bore a responsibility to convey an accurate view of history, regardless of whether the Mainland takes offense. As former chairman of the KMT, that is something he should have communicated.
Unfortunately, Lien Chan completely downplayed the matter. He said the KMT led the war effort on the front lines, while the CCP led it behind the lines. He glossed over the facts to please both sides. As a result the presidential office felt compelled to issue an official disclaimer. Both Lien Chan and Beijing underestimated the degree to which the KMT cared about credit due for the war effort.
During the previous century, the Chinese nation endured a painful war experience. Seventy years have passed, but the pain has not. Many on both sides of the Strait experienced that pain first hand. A grand ceremony to commemorate it is essential. A parade in Beijing to highlight China's ability to safeguard national security and regional peace is also desirable. After all, as a former victim of Japan's war of aggression, the Mainland must prove that it is capable of defending world peace and prosperity.
This of course does not mean the CCP can steal credit for leading the war effort. The historical facts must be made clear. The Kuomintang and the Nationalist government's contribution to the war effort must be acknowledged. Much more needs to be done in this respect. Lien Chan's visit rallied those on Taiwan who support cross-strait peace and prosperity. For this, he deserves recognition. The war ended 70 years ago. The two sides of the Strait have been separated for over 65 years. Beijing should offer Taipei a more positive response, especially with respect to the KMT's role as leader of the war effort.