Sunday, October 10, 2010
So it's been 100 years since the Wuchang Uprising, the rebellion that led to the downfall of the Qing Dynasty, and paved the way for the Republic of China, which was established a couple of months later.
100 years later, and we've got a financially-successful nation, a healthy democracy, a free press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and a modern, happy, well-adjusted society. And yet, what does it mean to be the R.O.C. in today's world?
China's not going to be joining this republic any time soon, and it is very determined to keep the R.O.C. a pariah nation. Sadly, that's the best-case scenario we have for the future!
What is more obvious is China's unceasing efforts to intimidate and threaten Taiwan. Saying it's a part of China isn't enough - China wants to bring Taiwan under its actual control, and neither the current Taiwan administration nor the rest of the world has the courage to do or say anything about it.
In the past, I never really cared that much - I was an outsider and although I've always loved Taiwan and had opinions about its place in the world, its status didn't directly concern me.
It's a little different now. My children are Taiwanese, as well as being Canadian, and their national identity isn't just an intellectual exercise for me. I don't want them to be citizens of a country that doesn't respect itself enough to stand up for itself, nor do I want them to be citizens of a fascist dicatorship. I just want them to be Taiwanese. I just want Taiwan to be Taiwan.
Taiwan's hope lies with optimistic young people in Taiwan like this, with the passage of time, with the implied support of the United States, and with China's reluctance up to now to actually commit overtly hostile acts of aggression against Taiwan. I fear though, that there aren't enough people in Taiwan who are willing to stand up, that time is running out, that the United States lacks resolve and that China's willingness to get nasty is getting stronger.
One thing is for certain. While Taiwan will always be around in one way or another, as an oppressed minion of China or not, the Republic of China is an anachronism. It doesn't represent Taiwan, it doesn't represent China, certainly nobody recognizes it, and it doesn't stand for anything. I doubt that it will exist in 20 years, never mind another century. In the end, it will be nothing more than a curious artifact of history.
But hey - Happy Birthday, anyway!