Ensure Republic of China Continuity and Commitment to Unity
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 2, 2011
President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday delivered a New Year's Day message. President Ma said he hoped one day all Chinese would be like those on Taiwan. They would all enjoy freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and a pluralistic way of life. Such a dream is not some distant dream. These ideals have already been achieved -- on Taiwan. They are not the monopoly of Westerners. The Taiwan experience should serve as an example for Mainland China's future development.
The Republic of China is now one hundred years old! The CCA has repeatedly broadcast a television ad. Lin Jue-min can be found in public school textbooks. But otherwise, how many people know who the heroes in the ad are? They fulfilled their sacred duty and saved the lives of their countrymen. But how many people care about their sacrifices? One hundred years ago, young people had revolutionary spirit. They founded the Republic of China. One hundred years later, all young people care about is finding a job, getting paid well, and whether they can attend a pop concert tomorrow.
One hundred years has resulted in a vast gap in the dreams we dream. But we need not feel bad. History invariably repeats itself. Obstacles to progress arise during every era. For example, for the first time in the history of the Republic of China, a president guilty of corruption is serving time in prison. As early as 88 years ago, the Republic of China had a president who bought official positions with vast sums of money -- Tsao Kun. The question is whether we can step off the treadmill?
Even more importantly, as we celebrate the Republic of China centennial, we should stop to ask ourselves whether the dream we have pursued so long been achieved? Is there still work to be done? Over the past 100 years, how many names have gone down in history? How many have not, yet laid down their lives for this troubled nation? How many have left behind an enduring legacy for this century-old system and culture? Will we remember them? Will we be grateful to them?
For half a century, the Republic of China remained trapped within a maelstrom of war and chaos. During the second half-century, on Taiwan, the ROC underwent the White Terror and the Formosa Incident. How many peoples' youth and dreams were lost in the pursuit of democracy? The ROC was the first democratic republic in Asia. It was reborn on Taiwan. Step by step, it stumbled toward its revolutionary ideals. It implemented rent reduction and land to the tiller policies, creating one of the world's most stunning economic miracles. It went from local self-government to the direct election of mayors and county chiefs, provincial governors, and even presidents. The peaceful change of ruling parties effected a quiet revolution, Democracy on Taiwan has become like air and water, It is our constant companion. But even today, its quality is still unsatisfactory.
The ROC has endured for a century. It nearly perished. The loss of the Mainland portion of its territory, paradoxically permitted the island of Formosa to thrive amidst the chaos. Perpetuating the Republic of China required much hardship. Suppression by Beijing went on for nearly four decades. The Republic of China national title, national flag, and national anthem have virtually disappeared from the international stage. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party has long made replacing the Republic of China by a new state its party platform. Under assault from without and within, the Republic of China centennial is undeniably bittersweet.
The CCP and the KMT fought each other for half a century. But they cannot avoid celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution at the same time. Nor can they deny that this was the revolution that created the Republic of China, not the People's Republic of China. The Republic of China still exists. It continues to hold flag-raising ceremonies, and sing the national anthem.
The goal of the Democratic Progressive Party meanwhile, is to establish an independent state, Therefore even at this unique moment in history, it refuses to participate in any Republic of China centennial activities. It cannot however deny that it was once the ruling party of the Republic of China. It once set government policy. Countless DPP members have sworn allegience to the Republic of China, under the ROC flag State and in front of the ROC public.
The Republic of China is 100 years old! Yet it faces countless dangers, internally and externally. The Republic of China may be one hundred years old. But a Republic of China passport will still permit one to visit one hundred different countries, visa-free. The flag however, continues to present an awkward problem. Sun Yat-sen held egalitarian ideals. But following Taiwan's economic miracle, the gap between rich and poor increased.
President Ma said the two sides should not struggle over matters of political authority. They should not stuggle over reunification vs. independence. They should not struggle over international manuevering room. They should strive toward freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and other core values. They should encourage each other and support each other.
The revolution has yet to succeed, Comrades must continue to struggle! The good news is that we need no longer shed blood in pursuit of our dreams. When we look up at the night sky and the splendor of fireworks displays, we should remember that the martyrs were equally moved. They sacrificed themselves to found the Republic of China. It may be imperfect, but at least it is still here. It is still a good place. We who live in this nation, should promise to live up to the efforts of our forebears. We must ensure that each generation bequeath succeeding generations a greater heritage and a better life.